SOLITUDE IS BLISS
“There’s a party in my head and no one is invited.” – Kevin Parker, Tame Impala
How the hell do any of us manage to make a single decent decision or come up with any new ideas amongst all that fucking noise?
No not noise noise, the constant noise of distraction and brain occupancy.
When we’re not on the go, which these days is pretty much just about always, we are distracting ourselves with mindlessness or filling up any potential empty space with some thing. Hell, most of us can’t even watch a TV show or movie without flicking through Instagram at the same time, let alone just sit there in our own thoughts, enjoying our own little moment of peace. Even a huge majority of us take our phones to the toilet. The old phrase ‘going to have a think’ when heading off for a number 2 doesn’t apply when your mind is preoccupied with Fail Army videos and Angry Birds games (yeah Angry Birds is so 2008, but I really don’t know what the latest time waster is called). No thoughts had, in fact we may well be making ourselves dumber with every visit to the John.
We are either really afraid of boredom, or being lonely, or our own thoughts. Or all three.
But what is it we are so afraid of?
“How different would the world look if people spent as much time listening to their conscience as they did to chattering broadcasts? If they could respond to the calls of their convictions as quickly as we answer the dings and rings of technology in our pockets?” ― Ryan Holiday
You know that feeling when x group gets together and says, “right, we need to come up with a new idea for the y campaign, let’s come up with some ideas.” …total mind blankness.
If you’re not naturally witty, your fucked.
When our minds are so constantly full of every thing we can possibly cram into it, how could we possibly come up with any ideas, yet alone a decent one? Imagine the potential game changing ideas we could envision or the opportunity-creating decisions we could make if every now and then we just stopped. Stopped everything. Switched off the radio, took out the headphones, put the phone away, stopped worrying about the future and dwelling on the past, put the washing down, stopped vacuuming, turned off the tv.
And instead, we went for a walk in nature, we poured ourselves a coffee and sat down in our favourite chair, we took a dip in the sea, we drove with the stereo off, we grabbed a towel and lay out in the sun in our backyard with our eyes closed. We allowed ourselves the opportunity to get lost in our thoughts, to open ourselves up to the world around us, to bring ourselves back to true reality, to put our life back into a little perspective, or even to see things from a different perspective.
There is no reason to be bored when you’re lost amongst your own thoughts. There is a difference between having nothing to do and having nothing to do, but actively allowing yourself to think constructively. Of course you’ll be bored if you sit there and you don’t allow yourself to think beyond “I’m bored, I’m bored, this sucks, this sucks”. For the first time in a long time, you may actually have to go a little deeper than that. But if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to get lost, don’t expect to be anything better than being bored. Opportunity lost.
Being by yourself also doesn’t mean you’re lonely. Using your alone time to think, relax or switch off is certainly not going to cause any amount of loneliness either. If anything, it will allow us the chance to come back to our social circles recharged, clear of mind and ready to contribute to your tribes in a more effective, more valuable and more appreciated way. When we catch up with friends and all we can think of is what we have to do tomorrow, or all we can talk about is the weather, or after a brief chat we sit there like a bunch of arseholes flicking through our phones again, maybe, just maybe, if we weren’t doing so damn much stuff all the time we would be able to see our mates and be present, and probably have some thoughts in mind that you’d discuss. Instead our blank and busy brains are braindead. You then leave the catch up wondering why you even bother catching up anymore. So you then catch up less, enter loneliness.
There is nothing to fear in allowing our mind to wander, only opportunity. And no, to sit in stillness but remain in moments of the past or spend it fearing the horrific uncontrollables of the future is not allowing our mind to go elsewhere. Be in the now. Be present. Let it happen. It may take a little time to venture past those daily fears. It may take a certain type of activity or non-activity to trigger true stillness. But avoiding it with distraction will only allow the fear to grow further.
“Most of us would be seized with fear if our bodies went numb, and would do everything possible to avoid it, yet we take no interest at all in the numbing of our souls.” — Epictetus
My best ideas and most compelling thoughts are had while swimming laps in the pool. It’s just me, the black line and no sound other than the white noise of my own splashing and breathing. An activity you could view as mind numbingly boring, or alternatively, a place where nothing can distract you. No phones, no people, nowhere to be.