It occurred to me as I sat quietly sipping my cappuccino that lately I have been plugging a considerable amount of activities into my smart phone calendar. Today I took a closer look at the events over the next eight weeks and sighed. A little voice down deep warned me I would soon be bordering on over commitment. Thankful for that inner wisdom I decided to be more mindful regarding my schedule.
As we move into a celebratory season filled with friends, fun and a host of parties and get-togethers, it is easy to obliterate the white space from our calendars. Although the warmth and comfort of gathering together in thankfulness and love is what makes this the best time of the year, we pay a price when removing our much needed solitude.
Meaningful alone time is required to balance the hectic pace of our lives which increases during the holidays. According to psychologist, Ester Buchholz, “Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs.”
During my teens and early twenties I constantly craved being with friends and family, always active, always on the run to the next activity. I clearly recall one day being hungry and without a lunch date, which meant eating alone. I found going into a restaurant on my own both an enlightening and scary experience. Looking back I realized it was really one of my growth moments because I discovered being alone was not lonely, it was necessary. Psychologists tout that time spent alone signals emotional maturity, so I had finally arrived. I discovered Henry David Thoreau was right when he said: “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Being in your own company provides the power of perspective. It enables you to analyze your priorities, your future goals and where you’re going in life.
But let me be clear, solitude does not mean sitting at your laptop alone interacting on Facebook or browsing on your smart phone. To embrace solitude, you must be alone with only your thoughts to guide you. Unplug from the world and just be. If you’ve forgotten how to enjoy being on your own, just observe a child alone at play. Children are totally content to take pleasure in a world they create. They delight in their own company.
So this season, do justice to your schedule. Limit the number of gatherings you attend.
Gracefully excuse yourself by acknowledging the generosity of an invitation but follow up by saying you are sorry you cannot be present as you have something else planned during that time. It is not untrue. You do have another pressing engagement, a quiet slot on your calendar. Enjoy the alone time and use it to be thankful for your many blessings.