Henry David Thoreau wrote “……I wished to live deliberately, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation...” Even in 1854, Thoreau noted that most men are slaves to their work and enslaved to those for whom they work and states that “"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation....”

Are you living a life of quiet desperation? Do you ever wish you could stop the world so you could get off? Do you feel your days are spent just running from activity to the next with barely enough time to breathe? Are you always watching the clock and thinking “it can’t be that late already”? And when you do get some free time at the end of the day, do you “zone out” in front of the television? When you are out shopping or doing errands, do you have a cell phone glued to your ear? Do you wish that somehow your life was more satisfying but you don’t have a clue how to create your dream life or even what your dream life looks like?

The first step to improving your mental wellbeing, creating a more satisfying life, and creating your dream life, is to make some time for solitude, some “alonetime”. Solitude is a NEED the same as air, food and water, especially in today’s fast moving world. We have lost ourselves due to today’s trend to being “over connected”. We need time alone to restore our energy, to be able to think about and assess our world, to evaluate ourselves and our current life, and to tap into our creative self. We need alone time to confront the false beliefs that currently rule our life, to learn that we can satisfy our own needs and provide ourselves the necessary self love so that we can truly and unconditionally love others. Yes, you heard that right. Until we can unconditionally love ourselves for who we are, we are not going to be able to give true and unconditional love to others.

So where and how are you going to find this “alonetime”? When you are out running errands, you could add a 15 to 20 minute stop at the coffee shop, local park or library to your errand list. Then you shut off your phone. Just the very act of being with your own thoughts for this short time on a regular basis will begin to heal your soul. The next step is to begin a journal. Check out my article “Reinventing Yourself Through Journaling” to learn more about how to journal. Begin by writing about your current life, what you like about it and what you do not like about it. Write about your feelings and thoughts. If you find yourself engaging in negative self talk or negative thoughts, write them down. At regular intervals, go back to what you wrote at an earlier time and look for recurring themes in your thoughts, beliefs, and self talk.

Cognitive restructuring is a concept developed by Dr. Albert Ellis. He found that often people had thoughts and self talk that were inaccurate and irrational and resulted in depression, anger, stress as well as detrimental actions and behaviors. He created an equation that stated: The Activating Event + Belief equals the Consequence. This means that if you are stressed it is not just the “activating event” that causes your stress but your thoughts and beliefs related to that event. He recommends a program of becoming aware of any inaccurate or irrational thought and belief habits, challenging those thoughts and beliefs through objective assessment to determine their validity, and then substituting more accurate and life enhancing thoughts and beliefs.

You can problem solve through journaling by identifying possible actions: 1-change the situation, 2-remove yourself from the situation, or 3-change your attitude/thinking about the situation. Always remember that you do have control over what YOU think and do and very little control over what OTHERS think and do. So concentrate on your own thoughts and actions and don’t waste time trying to change the thoughts and actions of others.
As you continue to improve your mental wellbeing with the gift of solitude at regular intervals and continue to journal on a regular basis you will notice an increase in your self esteem. Adequate self esteem is necessary for a successful life and is a reflection of our thoughts, beliefs, and attitude.

"Life's creative solutions require alonetime. Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems. Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers."
— Ester Buchholz

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