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The Psychology of Solitude: Find Meaning, Mental Health in the Beauty of Silence
Imagination Institute Director, University of Pennsylvania
Echoing the English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Scott Barry Kaufman explains that solitude is considered one of the greatest markers of psychological health because it means you are comfortable with you are when you are alone. The silence and easy concentration that accompanies solitude is a gateway to living a deeper, more meaningful life, says Kaufman. And contrary to popular misconception, enjoying being alone does not make one a misanthrope. On the contrary, being alone can help you find and solidify new ideas, which makes working in groups more rewarding: with new ideas you can contribute more to team efforts, and group discussion will yield more fruit when there is a greater diversity of ideas. Solitude provides an essential balance to time with others, says Kaufman, and the interplay of solitude and social time moves in cyclical patterns.