The Quiet Solution

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Albert Einstein

When I’m looking for answers to problems, I usually seek out a book or find someone who’s had a similar experience. But that’s not always the way to go. More input isn’t necessarily beneficial.

Sometimes all we need is to sit alone in a room with ourselves, or out in the woods to find the answer we need.

As Thomas Edison once said, “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.”

We might already have the answer we are looking for, we just can’t see it because we are too caught up in issue and the day to day business life.

Go talk a walk outside without your phone.

Sit in a silent room with some paper and a pen.

Find a quiet place to gather your thoughts and intentionally think and feel things through.

And it’s not just problems that solitude can cure. Some of my best ideas came from sitting alone in a room—reading, writing, thinking through my experiences.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #931

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Loneliness and Solitude

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When from our better selves we have too long been parted by the hurrying world, and droop. Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, how gracious, how benign is solitude.”

William Wordsworth

We often know what we need, before we think we need it. Let me put that another way. We often know what decision we need to make, way before we decide to take the steps to make it. It’s like our heart (soul/spirit / inner-self ) knows exactly what we need to do instantly, while our outer, overly critical overly thinking self needs to warm up to it.

Sometimes we need space. Sometimes we need connection. Life is a mixture of both.

I have this tendency to check out whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or under the weather. All I want to do is crawl away from all the noise and find somewhere quiet to be with myself. Vegging out is a tempting mistress (and I find myself marathoning random shows more than I care to admit) but what I’m really seeking is a silent place to be alone with myself. I’m not checking out of myself, I’m checking out of the world. I’m checking out of the external and checking into the internal.

So, I’ll avoid responding to texts. I’ll be more reluctant to answer email, and more reclusive to going to events or friendly invitations. Even if it’s something I’d normally love doing, I’ll avoid it. Because what I know I really need is space and breathing room to be alone with myself. (Note: better to let your friends know you need some solitude, versus ignore them for days.)

Ask yourself, when was the last time you were alone with yourself? No phone. No tv. No distractions. Just you and you. (And maybe a notebook and pen.)

Whether we know it or not. We all need solitude. Our best ideas come from giving ourselves space. That’s why all great ideas happen when you are driving alone in your car, going on an early walk, or standing in the shower as the sound of water drowns out the outer world.

There are other occasions, usually, when things are tough or sour, where all we want to avoid people (particularly the prying people closest to us), and yet we know (and try to ignore) we need help and the only way we are gonna get that help is to be around people (again, particularly the prying people closest to us). We don’t want to show that we are hurting. We don’t want to show our weakness. And yet we all know that’s exactly what we need to do.

Better to rip the bandage and reveal our wounds early, otherwise, they might fester and become worse. Sharing our weaknesses and scars is a part of what being a human being is about. I think it’s a component of storytelling that’s built into our DNA. Your story connects to my story and vice versa.

You might not always get the reaction you were hoping, but you at least likely won’t get the reaction you are expecting.

The difference between needing space and needing people is subtle. It takes some time (and a lot of patience) to be able to listen to yourself and figure out which you need. I think what we are seeking is similar — a level of clearheadedness or balance — but what drives each comes from different things. Whatever you think you need, it’s usually the opposite. Unless you are extremely in tune with your emotional wellbeing. If you are like the rest of us emotionally unintelligent work’s in progress(es), there are road signs you can watch out for —

Loneliness. Isolation. Feeling like you need to do and take care of everything yourself. These are signs that you need to be around people. Ideally, people that are smarter than you, care about you, and what to help and see you succeed.

Overwhelm. Overstimulated. Grumpy and feeling like everyone in the world is an idiot or out to get you. These are signs that you need to be alone with yourself. Ideally in nature. Or in a quiet place, you won’t be interrupted.

Ignore these signs at your own peril.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #841

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“The best part about being alone is that you really don’t have to answer to anybody. You do what you want.”

Justin Timberlake

How much time in any given day do you spend un-distractedly alone?

No phone, no tv, no people…. just you, yourself and you.

One of the best ways to get to know yourself (and what you want for your life) is practicing the art of being alone.

If you started lip-sweating at the thought of being alone, then you might be a people person.
Five minutes to yourself, and you’re texting your friends about doing something. Of course, nothing is wrong with spending time with people you love (it’s an essential part of cultivating a meaningful life). However, fearing along time is a great way to ignore yourself and who you want to be, which can lead you to saying yes and taking turns in life that you don’t want.

Because sometimes (often) we do things that goes against what we really want. Our hearts and minds say one thing, but our body does another. The more in-sync (NSYNC) you are with your mind, emotions, spirit and body, the greater your ability to act with gusto on your dreams and desires in life. Solitude is a great tool for this.

Solitude is also a great way to uncover problems in areas of life that are bothering you, which opens up a dialogue with yourself to find the next steps to resolve them. Problems in life usually start out like a leaky faucet, hardly noticeable at first — drip, drip — but overtime — drip drip drip — quickly overtake your life and flood your apartment.

When things go wrong, I turn to friends, but I also spend a lot of time in solitude, listening and checking in with what’s wrong, what’s missing and what I can do next to start to fix it.

There’s nothing quite like sitting down to a blank sheet of printer paper and giving yourself all the solitude and time you need to fill it.

We often know what we want, know what we are doing wrong, know what’s the problem and the solution, but we aren’t listening to ourselves long enough to hear it.

Spend some time alone today.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #655

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There’s a random quote from Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) in the Tron: Legacy sequel where he, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) are riding on some crazy sky train and he ends a discussion with the Zen phrase: “The old man’s gonna knock on the sky, listen to the sound.”

I’m driving down to Atlanta today to ‘knock on the sky’ and get some distance away from my normal, and give myself some time to think and clarify my goals as well as problems that have been biting me in the @ss this year.

It’s a little dramatic to drive an hour and a half (plus the same time back) to be alone with myself, but I find that I have the best ideas and ability to think when I switch locations and disrupt the flow of my normal habits and routines at home.

I find it good to regularly spend some time in solitude to check in with myself and assess how I’m doing, what I like and what I dislike about what I’m doing, and find key takeaways that I can immediately take action on.

There’s also some big projects I’ve been dipping my toes into, and big ideas I want to do that need some strategy and thought.

I’m not expecting to completely change my life in a day, or get everything done I want done, but I do want to set the foundation for how I can make my days align with my priorities.

I’m not sure If I’ll report back immediately on this blog, but you’ll likely see pieces of things in the following posts.

I”ll likely just end up buying a notebook I don’t need from Ponce Market, and eat good food, but if all else fails, at least I’ll have that to look forward to 🙂

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #643

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