Solitude: Take a “Daily Vacation” for Peak Performance

I remember when I said it to my husband. “The best part of my day is in the morning before everyone wakes and at night after everyone goes to sleep.”

His response said it all.  “Well, that’s sad.”

For a moment I felt shame. I realized he interpreted my enjoying silence and solitude as not enjoying my daily life.

I still stand by my statement, but I wondered for a moment, “Maybe he’s right. What’s wrong with me or my life that makes me desire solitude so much?”

I believe my husband’s response reflects that of society.  The world today does not understand the need to be alone. Yes, take time for an appointment with a client, your boss, your hair stylist, but don’t you dare miss something else because you have an appointment with yourself.

In 1955 Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in  Gift By The Sea, “What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect: when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it — like a secret vice.” Almost  sixty years after this writing, it seems society still has neither connected with nor embraced the message.

Solitude is the not the only way, but certainly for me the best way, to recharge from all the giving I put out during my waking hours. Solitude replenishes my spirit. It re-energizes me. It re-calibrates me in a way that changes how I respond to what is happening in my life, my level of stress, and my ability to tap into my creativity and my wisdom when making decisions.

When I don’t have that daily solitude, noise hurts my ears and physical touch hurts my body. I’m over-stimulated. It’s like I’m short-circuiting. During these moments, getting away is a must.

Spending time alone, allows me to hear things I can’t hear in the midst of the complicated life of two entrepreneurs and three active children. It’s in these moments of solitude, I hear whispers of how to simplify, and recall what really matters to me.

You see, everything we create is based upon how centered and clear-minded we are — especially in the midst of chaos. Alone time allows us to restore our clear-mindedness so we are in our peak zone for our busy and fast-paced lives.

While society has far from fully embraced solitude, it is becoming a recognized tool for higher performance and greater personal satisfaction even in our corporations. Meditation and yoga rooms, mindfulness training, and nap areas are in companies such as Google, Aetna, Cisco, Huffington Post, Promega and Salesforce.com.

It’s trending because studies have shown these practices train the mind to be more focused and resilient, to see with more  clarity and to improve decision making, productivity and creativity.  Practically priceless.

***

I no longer apologize for my desire to be alone. I’ve dropped the shame.

Now I’m proud to say, the best parts of my day are the morning before everyone wakes and after every one is in bed. I love my rich life in between these points even more as a result of my moments alone.

Solitude is no longer optional in the high-paced lives we’ve created. The good news is my husband gets this now. “Why don’t you step out and not come back for a while,” is a comment I gratefully receive from him so I can experience what I call my “daily vacation.”

Marcus Aurelius once said, “People look for retreats for themselves in the country, by the coast, or in the hills…There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat that in his own mind…So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”

It’s your turn; schedule time alone with yourself. That’s right, put it on your calendar. Make a date with yourself this week. Yes, we have that vacation near the water this summer and maybe a moment on the weekend. But where will you find your solitude today?

I’d love to hear how you get time alone.

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