Sunday, August 17, 2008

Solitude & Loneliness

Solitude & Loneliness - many times we tend use these words interchangeably. However, there is a huge difference between two states of the same matter - that is being alone.

Best thing I heard was - solitude is the joy of being alone. Loneliness is the pain of being alone. Nothing I can think of conveys the difference between solitude and loneliness better than this.

Another point is - we tend to confuse solitude as the state we are in just because we are alone and not in pain. Since we are not in pain while being alone, it can not be loneliness. So, it has to be solitude. Thus goes our logic. However, real solitude is when you are able to reach your inner-self. When you emerge out of it, you should have some new insight that would help you better yourself.

I am no expert but only way I can simulate something close to solitude is by being alone and more importantly by doing absolutely nothing. OK, thinking apart. If you can stop thinking too, bonus to you. First thing to create solitude is to shut ourselves to all kinds of external stimuli. Shut down TV, radio, internet, magazines etc. and try to spend a couple of hours on a comfortable chair doing nothing. Try it and you find it so hard. Within minutes, your hands stretch to some near by book or remote or your laptop or radio or phone. Even if we start off with half hour, that is a challenge to go for.

Loneliness is artificial. It is a sense of being lost, being disconnected. I hope nobody ever have to go through that. Loneliness is most often self inflicted. In this modern world, we have become so paranoid, we hesitate to welcome people and experiences into our life thinking that something or somebody may exploit us. No wonder we continue to build walls around us and religiously make it higher and higher everyday that let alone people reaching out to us. They don't even know we exist. If loneliness is the result of such lifestyle, you need to first get out and smell the roses before trying to get into solitude. Pick up the phone, call people. Reach out to friends. Send e-mails. In one or the other way, reconnect with whatever you are missing. You alone have got yourself into that state and you alone can get yourself out of it. There are tonnes of things to help you. Most likely you will reach out equally desperate lonely souls and you will feel better. After you have reconnected back, you can follow some steps to get those golden few moments of solitude.

Without consciously creating moments of solitude, we will probably skimming the surface of life's ocean. As they say, surface swimmer gets nothing except salt water. Only deep divers emerge out with pearls hidden deep under. Choice is yours - pearls or salty water from surface level swimming.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The way we see the problem is the problem. - Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I agree. This is the case most of the time. Problem is not a problem at all. It is a situation. How we react to a situation can result in given situation becoming a problem or opportunity. Why do we react to a particular situation in a particular way? If you observe, there is a very small amount of time from we recognize a situation to how we label it- as a problem or otherwise. That small time is used up by 'self-talk'. Self talk is how our brain interprets the situation and comes up with a monolog that we hear. Even if we aware of this mechanism, we can go a long way in controlling the kind of self talk that we generate. This self talk is mostly negative and that's how we see many situations as problems. This self talk is the result of years of conditioning. We call it conditioning or what ancient Hindu sages termed as 'samskara'. This our auto-response to situations based on life's worth of experiences in the past. Once we recognize this, we can consciously make a point to insert a deliberate  gap between seeing the situation and coming up with conclusion. You may not be successful at once. Even after inserting deliberate gap, you may hear the same old 'self talk'. That's ok. By becoming aware of this tendency, you are already taken a very important step. Keep trying and very soon self talk subsides and thinking improves. You get better clarity. This is a life long exercise and worth every effort. Treat it as experiment. There are no success or failure in experiments. Only outcomes.

When we change the way we look at things, things we look at change.- Wayne Dyer.


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