I am seating with a mild coffee, happily soaked into the Sunday’s wonderful sun blaze after I finished a refreshing run. God, I love running on weekend days! The joy of exercising under a sunny sky, after a good lunch nap is pure infatuation.
I stopped by Gioelia candy shop (ex Emilia) and got one of their amazing cannoli. They have this incredible mix of ricotta with pistachio and dark chocolate sprinkles you just cannot resist. Then I found myself a seat on the terrace, open my laptop and start writing.
There’s no moment during a week that I treasure more than the time spent alone, with my thoughts and self with no deadline, no rush, just a blank wordpress page and hundreds of ideas waiting in their mental mess to get cleaned up and be attached to a meaning.
This is what I wanna talk to you about today:
What’s behind our need to spend time alone and why there are times when it happens more frequent?
Let’s find out!
THE MIND: This, below, is your mind/brain. Imagine that we pour into it:
- Emotions: The way you feel in certain situations;
- Experiences: They way you get anchored in certain contexts and how you manage them depending on your position in each context;
- Learnings: Your lessons, the connections you make with the past experiences, the analogies and the new synapses that get formed;
- Social interactions: The people engaging with you through activities, all the information you process from these interactions and the shifts regarding your roles – how you position yourself in each of the relationships present in your life;
- External noise: Everything that makes your brain’s job to process things harder: horns, traffic, threats, being late, distractions and so on;
- Senses information: Everything you smell, hear, see, feel, touch, taste – is information that sets your brain to work because it needs to be decoded.
Imagine that all the above – happen daily, seven days a week..
So make it 7x.
Uuuf! It already seems quite a lot, isn’t it?
This is literally what your brain is processing during a week.
Now, let’s go further throughout a few important things in order to understand why it is so important to spend time alone and what we can do to function better, boost our mood & creativity…and avoid depression, of course. There are always two edges and I think both of them are important in the picture.
1. PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATION and its difference from MINDFULNESS.
Both meditations have amazing results. However, I, personally, found the philosophical mediation more fit for the way my mind functions and here’s why.
Philosophical mediation is basically the introspection that we do regarding the experiences that, collectively, are impacting our emotional mood.
Imagine that your MIND is filled daily with a lot of unboxed information:
I have to open, office, team agenda, forgot keys, mom is still upset, need fresh air, food list has to be updated – missing eggs, answer the message, song on repeat, bills payment is due, it was a really relaxing dinner, set reminder, need to run, dog needs to be taken out, contract signing is on Tuesday, flight tickets have to be bought after visa application, forgot that book, article is on pending, chocolate pudding needs nuts…and so on.
…Now, if you think about the fact that all the above information receives an emotional layer too and not enough time to get process individually, you will understand how fast things will start to top up.
As humans, we are pretty good at putting how we feel on a side, when there are other important things that have to be done. We are mentally trained to be mature and ignore the small things that make us feel frustrated or annoyed and focus further on the good things.
However, at the end of the day, too much stoicism and too little attention to how we feel turn into enhanced anxiety and finally – emotional breakdowns.
2. EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWNS EXPLAINED:
Alain de Botton says that:
A mental breakdown, or a depression is nothing else but our minds’ and bodies’ profound attempt to make us change. It is, at the end of the day, our inner selves’ craving for evolution.Alain de Botton
For a complete overview on the above puzzle, I would add:
3. The effect the TECHNOLOGY RACE has on the HUMAN PSYCHIC.
Think about the fact that technology & genetics have evolved exponentially in the past 50 years. We’ve seen incredible innovations becoming part of our lives, however, because most of them are at an early stage of development – they are difficult to be decoded and be fully blended in our general understanding by our minds. Below you could find some of them.
- Outsourcing our memories and thoughts into a cyber storage;
- Reversed ageing clinics making tremendous progress;
- Having the first space hotel to open by 2027.
- Genetic programming researches moving forward;
- Blockchain technology;
- Populating Mars;
- And so on…
Freud thought (link here) that human aggression and sexuality, for example, were among the hardest motivations to be integrated in the social world by people, reason why they were repressed for a long period of time. As a result, we evolved as humans, yet our capacity to manage our sexuality and aggression remained immature and underdeveloped.
The conclusion is that it takes time for our psyche to adapt to the society we live in and incorporate new experiences when we lack information and understanding.
You can boost a computer’s processing power by adding more RAMs, but you cannot boost humanity’s capacity of adaptation to technology.
I am afraid that this is one of the reasons we see such a big increase in mental health problems nowadays: Our human capacity to adapt and assimilate all these new innovations is overwhelmed by the speed with which technology is evolving.
Our mind is on cardio and, yet, it feels left behind.
TO SUM IT UP:
Your mind is collecting a lot of information during a week and it needs time to filter it.
When you are alone, when you walk and give yourself white space to separate the “noise” from what’s important, you take care of your mental health.
Having a lot of experiences and exploring knowledge help you build a wide network of key points that can lead to innovation and Eureka moments. However, if you don’t give yourself the needed time to clean up your mind once in a while and keep what it’s important, you might end up having frequent mental breakdowns that can lead to depression.
When you feel overwhelmed – take a day off, yet ideally would be to give yourself a walk a day, so you won’t let things accumulate.
To sum it up, you need to spend time alone because:
- You’ve accumulated a lot of information lately;
- You’ve had a lot of experiences and didn’t have the proper time to box them and incorporate the learnings;
- You’ve repressed emotions because you’ve prioritised other things that needed to be done;
- You’ve spent the day in a noisy environment that didn’t offer you the needed space to focus;
- You’ve gathered a lot of insights that need to be set aside to create innovation;
- You need to zoom out to solve a problem.
Geniuses who walked and spent time with themselves, daily:
- Charles Darwin;
- Charles Dickens;
- Nassim Taleb;
- Albert Einstein;
- Immanuel Kant;
- Ludwig Van Beethoven.