THE NECESSARY ART OF INDEPENDENCE
By Autumn Waite
How to master solitude.
Loneliness is not a state one typically enjoys to find themself in. However, the truth about solitude is that it is essential for everyone, and it is one of the greatest factors in cultivating a fruitful life. So how does one shift their mindset regarding loneliness from a negative connotation to a positive one and find enjoyment in independence?
Let us first address the truth that independence forces one to make decisions for oneself without the influence of others. This helps to hone decision-making skills and can lead to a better sense of self. The next time you need to run an errand, try going alone. Take your time walking the aisles of the store and truly allow yourself to make decisions that feed your happiness. Whether it’s deciding what ingredients to purchase for your evening meal or what kind of paint to buy at the craft store, let your heart guide you to the most joyful option for yourself. It can be as simple as asking yourself when the last time you had pancakes was, and remembering how your mother used to make them thick and with syrup spilling over the sides. Joy is the first ingredient of productivity. It isn’t until we slow down, dig deep into the soil of life and grab hold of our roots that we can learn what makes us grow.
Spending time alone allows you to make time for what truly makes you happy. Maybe you find a great deal of joy in cooking or painting. Taking time away from the hustle and hubbub of constant sociality, you can let yourself indulge in the things that bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Perhaps you have been trying to find the best way to finish that project for work, or finally write your novel. Independence allows you to cultivate creativity in the comfort of your home and workspace. Taking to solitude when necessary allows us to work more efficiently, and without distraction, to bear the fruit of creativity. Whether it be for work or for play, let it all be for the joy of living. As Osho said, ‘to be creative means to be in love with life.’
When we face so much public interaction throughout the week, being able to take a step back and rest in the comfort of home is essential in preventing burnout. It is important that our homes are a safe space, a place of comfort and peace. Marvin J. Ashton said it best; ‘home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love.’ With jobs, families, friends and extracurriculars, we seem to always be filling our schedules to the brim for the fear of missing out on life. But the truth is, if we focus all of our attention on not missing out on the big things, we let all the really important little moments slip past us without realization. We work so tirelessly to always be doing something that when we find ourselves doing nothing, we panic. But if we could only shift our opinion of solitude from idle to fruitful, we could see all of life’s moments as worth living.
Independence is a time of necessary self-discovery. By allowing ourselves to be mindful, make decisions, eat good food, be creative, strip life down to its basic principles and find joy in the smallest moments, we will better cultivate gratitude and grow to understand who we truly are. After all, the smallest, most mundane moments are the ones that hold the greatest sweetness.
Here are some enjoyable activities to do independently this season as things begin to cool off and slow down.