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In other words, they understand that our primal need to keep close contact with a social group for food and shelter is no longer applicable in modern society.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 .
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.
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 . 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Pew Research Center: Americans’ Views About Data Collection and Security
|Forbes: When You Think Your Brain Is Doing Nothing, It’s Really Getting You Ready To Socialize