"I tell you loneliness is the thing to master. Courage and fear, love, death are only parts of it and can easily be ruled afterwards. If I make myself master my own loneliness there will be peace or safety: and perhaps these are the same."-- Martha Gellhorn
When people talk about loneliness, it is often in a negative way, as if it was something to avoid at all costs. I don't see things that way. I think spending - and enjoying - moments alone is as important as quality time with friends and family. I seek and treasure the moments I spend by myself.
Going to the movies after work, reading a good book at a coffee shop, enjoying a meal at the airport before a flight, playing a video game, just walking around my neighbourhood to discover new places... I think there is something peaceful in spending quality moments alone. It helps focus on whatever is on my mind, makes me more creative, helps finding solutions to whatever is bothering me at the moment.
I even found that some of my best everyday joys were moments spent alone, like enjoying rain, waiting for a flight, eating a brunch before a late morning job interview... In these situations I am more than ever enjoying the present moment. I am consciously creating these joyful moments to sit back and relax. And I feel grateful for having this time for myself.
Now the question is: why do some people avoid being alone, and why do they feel lonely when they are not surrounded by other people? I am no psychologist, so I don't really have an answer, but maybe this has soemeting to do with "mastering loneliness" as says the quote above. In this fast-paced modern society, we tend to forget how to slow down and contemplate. Maybe we need to learn to know ourselves and enjoy our own company. Maybe we need to stop feeling guilty about "wasting time" and enjoy these slow moments instead.
Give it a try. For example, next time you have to wait for a train/flight/appointment, how about considering this down time like a moment for yourself instead of "wasted time" and enjoy something you like doing: reading, playing a game, drawing or writing something, anything really, as long as it turns the waiting into a joyful moment of loneliness...