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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default The power of lonely

    The power of lonely
    What we do better without other people around
    By Leon Neyfakh
    March 6, 2011
    The Boston Globe

    Excerpt:
    You hear it all the time: We humans are social animals. We need to spend time together to be happy and functional, and we extract a vast array of benefits from maintaining intimate relationships and associating with groups. Collaborating on projects at work makes us smarter and more creative. Hanging out with friends makes us more emotionally mature and better able to deal with grief and stress.

    Spending time alone, by contrast, can look a little suspect. In a world gone wild for wikis and interdisciplinary collaboration, those who prefer solitude and private noodling are seen as eccentric at best and defective at worst, and are often presumed to be suffering from social anxiety, boredom, and alienation.

    But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.

    One ongoing Harvard study indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone. Another indicates that a certain amount of solitude can make a person more capable of empathy towards others. And while no one would dispute that too much isolation early in life can be unhealthy, a certain amount of solitude has been shown to help teenagers improve their moods and earn good grades in school.

    “There’s so much cultural anxiety about isolation in our country that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University whose book “Alone in America,” in which he argues for a reevaluation of solitude, will be published next year. “There is something very liberating for people about being on their own. They’re able to establish some control over the way they spend their time. They’re able to decompress at the end of a busy day in a city...and experience a feeling of freedom.”

    Figuring out what solitude is and how it affects our thoughts and feelings has never been more crucial. The latest Census figures indicate there are some 31 million Americans living alone, which accounts for more than a quarter of all US households. And at the same time, the experience of being alone is being transformed dramatically, as more and more people spend their days and nights permanently connected to the outside world through cellphones and computers. In an age when no one is ever more than a text message or an e-mail away from other people, the distinction between “alone” and “together” has become hopelessly blurry, even as the potential benefits of true solitude are starting to become clearer.

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  2. #2
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    There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them.
    Precisely. Thank you for posting this article!

  3. #3
    Sniffles
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    Solitude is as important part of life as socializing. In solitude one can best seek contemplation about themselves and the world. The key is to maintain balance.

  4. #4
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing.

    A little introversion is good for the soul.
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  5. #5
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    true... I need time to decompress after work in order to be able to deal with anything... too many people

    sometimes some quiet is a very, very good thing indeed...
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  6. #6
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    However, I don't like the fact that they referred to it as "lonely" in the headline. Lonely and alone are not the same. Lonely automatically implies unhappiness. And some of the loneliest times in my life were when I was surrounded by people...
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    Solitude is a very important thing, and I don't think it's the same thing as lonely.

  8. #8
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    I'm glad people enjoyed this article. Its true what you point out, they aren't the same, obviously they put that as a lure.

    I thought this bit was so interesting:
    The first invokes a well-known concept from social psychology called “social loafing,” which says that people tend not to try as hard if they think they can rely on others to pick up their slack. (If two people are pulling a rope, for example, neither will pull quite as hard as they would if they were pulling it alone.) But Burum leans toward a different explanation, which is that sharing an experience with someone is inherently distracting, because it compels us to expend energy on imagining what the other person is going through and how they’re reacting to it.

    “People tend to engage quite automatically with thinking about the minds of other people,” Burum said in an interview. “We’re multitasking when we’re with other people in a way that we’re not when we just have an experience by ourselves.”
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  9. #9
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    But Burum leans toward a different explanation, which is that sharing an experience with someone is inherently distracting, because it compels us to expend energy on imagining what the other person is going through and how they’re reacting to it.

    “People tend to engage quite automatically with thinking about the minds of other people,” Burum said in an interview. “We’re multitasking when we’re with other people in a way that we’re not when we just have an experience by ourselves.”
    Ooooh... definitely. I really like the way that's phrased. It's exhausting at times, and this states it better than I've been able to myself.


    I also thought this was interesting:

    Figuring out what solitude is and how it affects our thoughts and feelings has never been more crucial. The latest Census figures indicate there are some 31 million Americans living alone, which accounts for more than a quarter of all US households. And at the same time, the experience of being alone is being transformed dramatically, as more and more people spend their days and nights permanently connected to the outside world through cellphones and computers. In an age when no one is ever more than a text message or an e-mail away from other people, the distinction between “alone” and “together” has become hopelessly blurry, even as the potential benefits of true solitude are starting to become clearer.
    I'd thought about this before, how having internet at home has changed living alone into a weird sort of ersatz solitude (at least, for people who spend a lot of time online).
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  10. #10
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    However, I don't like the fact that they referred to it as "lonely" in the headline. Lonely and alone are not the same. Lonely automatically implies unhappiness. And some of the loneliest times in my life were when I was surrounded by people...
    +1
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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