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You Have to Crave Real Alone Time to Be Smarter

You Have to Crave Real Alone Time to Be Smarter

Lots of research has pointed at the notion that people who socialize more tend to be much happier. But this doesn’t apply to everyone. One factor where socializing more doesn’t equal more happiness is intelligence. People who are highly intelligent become less happy the more they socialize because it’s thought smart people adapt more easily to the modern world. In other words, they understand that our primal need to keep close contact with a social group for food and shelter is no longer applicable in modern society.

In fact, the more intelligent someone is, the more they tend to focus on long term goals instead of short-term gratification. Socialising, therefore, doesn’t hold as much value as working towards their goals.

You’re Not Alone in Embracing Your Alone Time

If you’re reading this thinking how much you love your alone time and proud that you carve out time for yourself on a regular basis, you’re one of many. One survey found 85% of adults believe alone time is important to them [1].

While the increasingly popular concept of mindfulness encourages us to connect with ourselves, the importance of alone time is becoming a necessary part of our lives. But do you we really use this time to our advantage? Do we really spend this valuable alone time “alone”?

How We’re Spending Alone Time in the Wrong Way

Being physically alone in a room is one thing, but if you don’t utilise this time in a way that you’re free from social stimulation, you’re not getting the true benefits.

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With modern times comes digital distractions. Having time by yourself means you can enjoy doing the things that relax you but these days that can mean idly jumping on your phone or computer. Replying to texts and messages and browsing Facebook is providing the danger of becoming less relaxed and satisfied with the benefits that alone time can create in your life.

Our idea of alone time needs to be defined as distancing ourselves physically and digitally from the world. In fact, when we’re mindlessly browsing social media or watching television, our brain is actually shifting into a state where it starts to crave social interaction with others [2]. This obviously counteracts the very reasons why you need alone time in the first place.

Why FOMO is the Death of Your Alone Time

FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out is a phenomenon all social media users have experienced at one time or another.

It’s that needy, anxious feeling you get when you haven’t checked Facebook or Twitter – that fear that there’s stuff out there that you’re missing out on and leads you to check just one more time to see what’s new.

But what we’re essentially checking are things that don’t matter or add value to our lives. It may evoke that sense of security that we’re up to date on what’s going on, to be able to talk about the latest goings on with our peers but it’s creating a greater insecurity in the long run.

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Social media has the ability to have a huge negative effect on us. It creates a sense of competitiveness and comparison that affects the mentality we have of ourselves. It takes away those precious moments where we could be doing more productive tasks that actually go towards our personal growth and well-being.

How To Lessen Distractions

The key to this is lessening time spent on social media or watching TV rather than cutting it out altogether and there are ways to help you do this.

One is an online app called StayFocusd for Chrome users. Select the websites that you consider your biggest time wasters and set a time limit. Once this time has run out, Chrome will block you from using it giving you no choice but to focus on better things.

Another app is Forest where your seed will gradually grow into a tree. The idea here is if you move away from the app, your tree is in danger of withering away – encouraging you to stop the habit of using your usual distracting apps.

Practical Activities To Get More Out of Your Alone Time

The time you spend alone is a great opportunity to increase your well-being and promote positivity within yourself. Whether you have 15 minutes or several hours, there are certain activities that can help cultivate personal growth.

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Self-Reflection: ask yourself a lot of questions

Self-reflection is something we tend to overlook. By not going through the process of deliberately self-reflecting on our thoughts and actions, we risk missing the opportunity to find growth and likely end up stuck in the same patterns.

  • Review regularly how you spend your day, week or month
  • Ask yourself what could you do differently to create challenges or create more happiness
  • How can you change your current perspectives?
  • Ask yourself: am I living my best life? If not, what small or big changes could I consider making?

Questioning yourself can sometimes feel uncomfortable but it’s this resistance that is showing you there are answers you may need to face in order to create a better life or grow positively as a person.

Journalling: free your mind

There’s a lot of power in writing things down and can be extremely therapeutic for the mind. When something is troubling you, writing it down can help clear it out and relax your mind. To do this, first write down your worries and feelings and then step back and contemplate them. Ask yourself if they’re really valid and question why you’re having these feelings.

The beauty of this process is finding time to intentionally stop and listen to your inner thoughts and feelings, taking time out in order to stop overlooking them and allowing them to grow bigger. Always remember this rule: when it comes to unhappiness, the more you write it down, the less you’ll remember it.

Meditation: learn how not to think

While meditation is a wonderful tool for relaxing, it has many other benefits too. Research has found it has positive effects on our health including lowering blood pressure, increasing positive mental attitude, improving focus, memory and boosting creativity.

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And you don’t have to sit for hours on end to get these benefits. Just 5 minutes out of your day to sit quietly and focus on your breath will be enough to see an improvement and reap the rewards.

Watch Movies or Read Books That Change Your Perspective

Reading is a popular alone-time activity as is streaming your favourite movie. But consider reaching for a book or film that will change the way you view something.

Escapism is great every now and then, but in this busy world our time can be precious and using this time to change our mindsets and perspectives can be exponential for our growth and understanding.

The benefit of spending time alone is being able to make choices without others’ influences. As humans, we tend to allow our egos to be persuaded by outside opinions instead of changing beliefs ourselves. By being solitary, we can help avoid this and discover our own ideas and challenge existing perspectives. A good way of doing this is through reading different books and watching movies that challenge our ideas about the world.

Our alone time can be extremely beneficial to us if we use it in the right way. Make the time for yourself as quality-focused and growth-oriented as possible. After a while you’ll start to see and feel the positive effects.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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