In his philosophical text Pensées, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote: "All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone." Pascal wrote this in 1670! Already then did humans contemplate the ills of boredom. And this was way, way before any of today's modern distractions were invented.
I think about this quote a lot for that exact reason. Since the dawn of society, people have faced the challenge of spending quiet time alone. They may not have had television and smartphones in the 17th century, but they had books and card games and other activities to divert themselves. The issue is that mindless distractions make us miserable. We aren't satisfied with what we have and crave more: more action, entertainment, and more numbing of the senses.
Many people avoid being alone because they fear what they might discover. Spending time in your head is tricky because we are constantly warned against overthinking, but we end up overthinking the most little worries. We are scared to face the things that aren't so pleased about our lives: financial troubles, unhappiness in a relationship or a career, and fears about the future and where it all might lead. Switching on the television and delaying those important questions for another day is more effortless.
But clearly, not tackling those questions doesn't solve them. They persist day after day. We avoid being alone to prolong the confrontation with ourselves. We go out, party, watch countless videos on Youtube or scroll for hours through social media. We talk on the phone or text people, read dumb things on the internet and seek out other mindless, fruitless distractions.
You are the person you spend the most time with. You are in a committed, unbreakable relationship with yourself. You can cheat and lie to yourself by trying to please others or to become more like somebody else, which is ultimately impossible. Or you can finally realise that this is who you are and commit yourself to help yourself grow. You invite yourself out for coffee and ask yourself what you're into, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel good or bad. You go for a walk and learn more about your past, what shaped and made you into who you are today. You take a bath and open up about your dreams and aspirations. You show up for yourself and build trust over time. You will feel comfortable with yourself, knowing you understand yourself completely and always have your back. So that even when life sucks and you think you are alone, you are not alone.
Learning to spend time alone can be challenging, but it's worth it. The trick is to seek out creative or freeing activities that don't distract from the getting-to-know-yourself process.
We recommend taking a full moon bath or going for a long walk in a nearby forest. Or try journaling or painting. Even reading a good book with compelling characters can help you discover truths about yourself. You're on the right path as long as you do it all with love and intention.
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