As our world becomes noisier and more dependent on technology, more people seek solitude as temporary relief. Fixed periods of isolation carry many mental and physical health benefits including decreased stress, a focused mind, relaxed internal systems, and more inspiration at work or school. Yet if you’re an extrovert or simply not used to solitude, finding its benefits can be difficult. Today, we’re going to highlight some great quotes about solitude that will increase your inspiration and appreciation for quiet.
Poet May Sarton explains the difference between loneliness and solitude: “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.” This line is particularly powerful, as she expresses that being alone does not have to mean loneliness, and that there is “richness” in being on one’s own.
Henry David Thoreau, the writer of Walden, knew something of the solace of solitude as well, famously saying, “I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Here, Thoreau suggests that being alone isn’t something to fear, but rather that quiet and solitude is its own companion. Aloneness itself is a friend.
Perhaps the most graceful realization of the power of solitude comes from playwright Eve Ensler:
Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees.
Ensler sees time spent alone not as a lack but as time to explore and learn about the world around you. Her word choice here, “cherish,” “learn,” “decide,” is imperative, demanding we make useful the peacefulness of time spent alone.
Philosopher Martin Buber might break it down the most succinctly: “Solitude is the place of purification.” Certainly, this is one of our aims in the fast past world that surrounds us.
During times of stress, it might be helpful to consider these quotes, which give you permission to take some deep breaths all on your own. Re-establish your center and allow that time to purify your mind and body. While taking time away from family and friends might seem selfish, know that your calmer self is a gift to your loved ones as well as to yourself.