Do you enjoy spending time alone?

I just finished reading a series of blog posts by Barbara Stanny, a leading authority on women and money, about how to surrender.  And these short posts got me thinking about where I am right now – alone for a few days.

My husband and I spent the weekend on Cape Cod celebrating our anniversary and Easter. Yesterday morning he went back back to work and home.  I’m staying for a few more days, alone, to work on some business related projects including writing a new business/marketing plan and working on the Feel Good Living Book.

As I read Barbara Stanny’s posts and reflected on what’s ahead for me over the next few days, I begin to notice how I felt about my time alone – mixed.  I’m looking forward to “getting work done” and yet it would be nice to have someone to talk to and have dinner with in the evening!

When I mentioned this work alone retreat to a friend she responded with, “Alone?  Interesting!”  I found it interesting that she responded with “interesting!”

Her response, my mixed feelings and Barbara Stanny’s blog posts led me to get curious and wonder what other people think.

Do you enjoy spending time alone?

Does that question stir something within you?  Do you get a funny feeling in your belly?  Did you make a face?  Did you think, “Why would I want to be alone?” or do you wish, “Yes, please! When?”

How often do you take time to just be with yourself and relax?  No TV, no reading, no cleaning, no busying yourself at all?  Or maybe the thought is simply ridiculous.  Being alone means “stuff comes up” and that can be uncomfortable.  Distractions allow us to avoid the discomfort.  And these days distractions are found around every corner, if we choose to engage.

Took me a long time to enjoy being alone and to stop myself from constantly being distracted.  And now I treasure this alone time – whether quick or extended.  It is truly a gift, allowing me the space and quiet I need to focus and listen.  Alone time allows me to connect in to my purpose and passion by silencing the external voices telling me what I “should” do.  Alone is, admittedly “scary” at first, and what I’ve learned is by learning to appreciate it and bring it into my life, I grow stronger and more confident. I can surrender, knowing I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

What about you?  Whether you spend 4 days or 4 minutes, do you enjoy or shy away from spending time alone?

If you enjoy it, how have you benefited?

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  • Tracy

    I am almost always around other people which I enjoy, but sometimes it’s nice to have a ME day. This past Saturday I enjoyed a wonderful day alone. (well, almost alone) I spent several hours at the spa, strolled Boylston Street and then enjoyed a nice lunch. Besides a few interactions to check in at the spa, order lunch…there was little conversation. It was such a peaceful day and I would encourage everyone to take time to be alone. I’m slowly learning how important it is to listen to myself, days like this are a great way to just let your mind open up and listen to yourself instead of others.

  • Positively Present

    Great post, Stacey! I really enjoy spending time alone and actually get a lot out of it. It’s great to have some quality alone time.

  • Paula Harris

    I love my alone time! I especially love when I’m alone at our place in the Berkshires. There is such sense of peace and spirituality there. Also, a good night home alone on the couch is pretty nice too.

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  • Bob Weisenberg

    Great post and question.

    I’m a gregarious hermit. I like people and I am very social when in a social situation, but If given the choice I always choose solitude or simple time at home with my wife Jane. I was a software entrepreneur for thirty years, which is as outgoing as it sounds, but I would always choose to be at home reading or playing guitar or writing about Yoga than going out to a party.

    This was all true long before the advent of “social media”. It’s perfect for some like me who enjoys people but loves solitude even more. Now I’m not just a “gregarious hermit”, I’m a “Yoga Cyber Hermit”.

    Bob Weisenberg

  • lori johnson

    I get a fare amount of time at home alone because my husband works long hours and most weekends, my office is in my home, and we have no kids.
    I’m not good at being alone. I always feel lonely. Even though I am ALWAYS busy doing one or two of the many interests I enjoy, I still feel lonely.
    I envy those who are content alone with a good book. I need people around me to be my happiest.
    Then there are the times I am grateful to be alone in my office so I can really get some work done uninterrupted. My mind is engaged so no time to think about being lonely. There is a great sense of accomplishment on those days.
    Over the years, my cats have been a great comfort for my lonely days.

  • Chris Edgar

    Hi Stacey — that’s a good point, I think, that for some people the fears are more prominent when they’re alone, and for others the anxiety is louder when people are around. Personally I tend to favor the alone time by default, and to work with this, sometimes I just go out and hang out around people, breathe deeply and get centered — even if I’m just being silent, this can be a useful practice.

  • Evita

    Hi Stacey

    I have always been comfortable being alone, but it is not something I must have. I have known people who “had” to take time away from others to maintain their sanity.

    So today, having a spouse with whom I am with almost all the time works for me too, and I feel I have a good balance of how I feel about “alone” time. I welcome it when it comes, don’t fear it, and also don’t seek it.

    But you are so right, a lot of people I know cannot stand the idea of being alone for the very reason you mention…it makes stuff come up and it makes you think…which for some is very uncomfortable.

    Great post and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

  • Hilary

    Hi Stacey .. I enjoy being alone – I get lots done .. and then on other days I can enjoy friends company, just be out and about .. so a mixed bag – just having that freedom of being away from home with no ‘chores’ and therefore the freedom of being able to do what I want for that short period – no time constraints .. and I can just be. I love people too .. so mix and match. I’m sure being married – they are your other half .. so it’s not surprising that you feel you’re missing a bit!! But enjoy the freedom and understand you can – so next time you know what to expect and can live in the moment of silence and being alone – just you and your thoughts …

    Enjoy being home again together! All the best and bye – Hilary

  • Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord

    That “surrender” word seems to be floating in the ethers this week, begging many of us to embrace it.

    I live alone, so have ample opportunity to be by myself. As you said, though, distractions are easy to give in to. I usually do – not even consciously. I feel discomfort and then BAM!, choose a distractor. Funny how I’ve allowed myself to be wired. But I have to trust that it’s all good, and that this time alone – without a live-in partner – is what I want. I manifested it, after all.

    I loved your description of what being alone meant for you and how you had to surrender to it. Thanks for sharing this with us, Stacey.

  • Peggy Nolan

    Hi Stacey,

    I’m one of those who craves my alone time. I love it. And it was very scary at first. So much stuff came up…and it still does…I’ve just learned to let it come up without attaching myself to it (most of the time…I haven’t reached that state of perfection yet!)

    When I’m alone I like to write or practice pranyama or both.

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Tracy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree, being alone is important to listen to ourselves, rather than everyone else. We know what’s best. Thanks for leaving a comment!

    Hi Positively Present! Good to have you hear. It’s always nice to hear that others appreciate time alone, too. Enjoy!

    Hi Paula! Ah, the Berkshires would be a great place to be alone. I’m enjoying the Cape right now…no crowds, bright sun.

    Hi Bob – love how you call yourself a “yoga cyber hermit!” We all enjoy different things – some prefer more alone time others need to be around people. I love people, but definitely appreciate a few days distraction free.

    Hi Lori – Thanks for commenting and sharing your story! My cats definitely keep me company, I love that!

    Hi Chris – Ah, interesting practice – to go where the people are and just observe and be, rather than engaged.

    Hi Evita – that’s why I love meditation. For 15 to 20 minutes I can “get away” for a bit, without leaving my life entirely. I really don’t want that!

    Hi Hilary – you hit the nail for me…no chores…and that’s what makes being away right now so wonderful – so much “extra time” if you will…because there is no cooking, cleaning or other distracting task.

    Hi Megan it’s been a while since I lived alone, and I always loved it…Yes, it will be ok, and when you’re ready to not be alone, you’ll manifest that!

    Hi Peggy – that’s why I love yoga. I may still attach but can become more aware of it and not attach for as long. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lance

    Hey Stacey,
    Cape Cod in spring….has to be a wonderful time to “be” there.

    I do get much out of alone time. Some days seem like we are just on the go all the time. And making/taking time for quiet and reflection really has to be planned. For me, that is most definitely early mornings. Sometimes, though…it’s all too easy to focus on something else…even in what appear to be quiet moments. Anyway, this is a good reminder for me that quiet time can still be filled with distractions if we allow that. (Hmmm….)

    • Stacey Shipman

      Hi Lance, my favorite quiet time is early morning, no one is up yet. And yes, it’s so easy to fill it with distractions, alone time can be “scary”.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    I was one that had to seek time alone when I was raising the girls. It was a luxury. I often took weekends, and as they got older I increased it to a week.

    Today I like Evita spend nearly all my time with my husband. I also like spending time along in early mornings.

    • Stacey Shipman

      Tess, it amazes me that “alone time” is considered a luxury, when the benefits are tremendous. Kudos for making it happen in your life.

  • Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    I love spending time alone. It helps me process my creativity. I love going for a walk with others, but alone, with my dog, is where I do my best thinking. I’ve come up with so many good ideas that I can’t possibly tackle all of them. It’s this alone time that keeps me excited about the possibilities that I have. It’s an extraordinary gift.

    • Stacey Shipman

      Karl – I agree about how it helps with productivity. Whether I’m running, sitting in the yard or meditating, things always seem to become more clear and ideas just seem to flow!

  • Sanjay

    Nice post..and i used to spent my time alone with some divine music..I am always interested to losten in music and i got Ojas which is a coolection of mantras that is really helping me reduce my stress..

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  • Ronnie

    I’m pretty surprised to see that I’m the first one to comment on this post. Ok, I’d say I not only need, want, and love ‘alone’ time, but I’m fortunate to actually get a lot of it, daily. I’m a contentedly single, self-employed man, living alone in my own apartment. Being mainly introverted (though not shy), I’ve always shunned crowds, and like socialising in small segments, and preferably on my own terms. I know I’m perfectly happy spending most evenings alone, reading, writing, exercising, cooking, watching a bit of TV, listening to my favourite music, tending to my two cats, etc..etc…I’ve never had any qualms about going out shopping or watching a movie, concert, or game alone, although I don’t mind doing any of the above with a close friend or two, sometimes. Point is, I honestly like my own space, ways of relaxation, and absolutely crave daily periods of total solitude. And I’m the least bit affected by other people’s prejudices and judgements regarding my personality and personal choices when it comes to spending and enjoying my time alone.

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