#001 The importance of solitude
Including practices to help you.
Welcome, and happy Tuesday!
Today’s curiosity is on the importance of solitude, and how we are drifting away from our own minds. I will also include a few practices from the book ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport that has helped me.
Lately, I’ve been writing all my thoughts down.
It’s a good practice. You get to uncover a whole new side of yourself and bring clarity to who you are. As an added bonus, it makes for great content.
For example, I discovered that I want to produce the highest quality, always. Which is a good thing, most of the time.
Except when you spend a week trying to decide what medium to use for a newsletter (like I did with this one). At last, I concluded that paying $55 a month for a small audience isn’t justifiable yet.
If it is a small decision, it’s better to pick something and get started.
We lost the free mind
In a world busy with digital life, most of us rarely experience complete freedom from other input.
Today, we are more interested in filling our minds with noise and connecting with our peers. We do this because it is easier than ever before. Every book in existence and every friend of yours is right at your fingertips.
When digital life began, however, we lost the free mind.
The free mind, or as Cal Newport defines it,
“A subjective state in which your mind is free from the input of other minds.”
We lost it, in the sense that we're so invested in the digital economy today, that we are no longer forced to be alone.
Because of technology, we have the ability to be fully distracted from our own thoughts.
Is it important to be alone?
When is the last time you took a walk and just… existed? Without headphones or any distractions?
When everything happens online, it is hard to make time for solitude. It is even harder being a creator, where you ‘have to be monotonous consistent on social media’.
But is it necessary to be alone?
Science says yes.
There are three imperative benefits that we gain from solitude.
We get new ideas
We get a deeper understanding of ourselves
Closeness to the ones that matter
Not to mention the serious side effects of not being alone with your thoughts, such as increased anxiety. Newport explains in his book, Digital Minimalism, that there is a correlation between the upsurge of media and the increase in anxiety.
If you suppress your own mind, will you not cease to exist? By this, I mean becoming blind to your ideas, your opinions, and eventually, Being. How could you possibly understand yourself or others, if you reject your own mind? You will become another person. A person whose social media has become their entire personality.
People need to think, otherwise, they wander blindly into pits. When people think, they stimulate the world.
The importance of solitude is distressed by the greats of our history. Albert Einstein spent time alone playing music. For Steve Jobs and Nietzsche, it was taking long walks. For Theodore Roosevelt, it was journaling.
Have you been conscious of the way media is distracting you from being in solitude? The way social media has been using you, instead of you using it?
If you take away one thing, it should be that everyone’s fighting for your attention, and it is your job to protect it.
Here’s to questioning the common.
Three practices to reclaim your solitude
From Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Leave your phone at home
Take long walks (Worked best for Thoreau and Nietzsche)
Write letters to yourself
Thanks for exploring with me!
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Until next week,
Designer & writer