It’s Monday, the start of yet another busy week. Today, as we speed towards the end of the year at an ever increasing speed, rushing to get everything done in our ever-busier lives, we celebrate a special day that may be just what the doctor ordered – today is Hermit Day.
A hermit, according to the Free Dictionary, is “a person who has withdrawn from society and lives a solitary existence; a recluse.” While the concept of a hermit traditionally has religious connotations, and is specifically associated with people who choose to live a life of ascetic seclusion out of religious conviction, it can also be more generally applied. As stated in Wikipedia, “In modern colloquial usage, the term ‘hermit’ denotes anyone living a life apart from the rest of society, or who simply does not participate in social events as much as is common, regardless of their motivation in doing so, including the misanthrope.”
So, today is the day to shun all those tiring social responsibilities and to spend some me-time. Stay inside, or if the weather is good, spend some alone time in the garden, or go walk a secluded trail. Heck, stay in bed if you you feel that’s what you need. Unplug the phone, switch off the mobile, just avoid all social contact for a day.
OK, in this age of connectedness you may need a slightly earlier warning to plan for a day of total seclusion, but even if you cannot spend the entire day by yourself, try to at least spend some alone-time to recharge your batteries. And maybe make a concerted effort to plan your own personal hermit day for some other time – it can do you a world of good.
In a 2011 Boston Globe article called The Power of Lonely, it is reported that, despite the oft publicized benefits of social concepts like collaborative innovation, group-therapy, social support structures etc, there is an emerging body of research suggesting that some seclusion and alone-time can be very beneficial. The article (a good read, by the way) lists research hinting at the positive impact that alone-time can have on memory recall and creative thinking. It is also suggested that spending time by ourselves improves our subsequent interactions with others when we have to return to more social activities.
An important factor differentiating between solitude being a positive or negative experience, is whether that solitude is by choice. When we choose to spend some time alone, the time can be beneficial on many levels. If, on the other hand, we are isolated or secluded against our will, the association tends to be much more negative and can be a rather harmful experience.
Perhaps one of the best quotes on the value of voluntary seclusion comes from the great scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, who once said “The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone. That is when ideas are born.”