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The Difference Between Loneliness and Solitude

René GruauPets, WiFI, books, iPad, HBO, strolling the neighborhood, social media, The New Yorker, movies, chicken pot pie, music, Rachel Maddow.

What makes the difference for you?

Artwork by René Gruau


20 comments for “The Difference Between Loneliness and Solitude”

  1. Dana says:

    Loneliness evolves into solitude when you become comfortable with being alone. Its a practical approach and takes away the yearning of loneliness and turns the discomfort to acceptance. Solitude is positive aspect of being alone, loneliness is a negative emotion.

    • wendy says:

      3 day weekends can sometimes make me feel lonely. But other than that, my moments of solitude are greatly appreciated.

  2. Paulette says:

    I’m still adjusting to liking solitude. I am used to it, not necessarily enjoying it. What gets me through? My rabbits, going to my local community center to see plays, concerts, take water aerobics classes, So Delicious butter pecan ice cream, jazz music, Cosby Show and Golden Girl reruns, the New Yorker too (love that mag), all my books, especially the murder mysteries, reading poetry, sketching…

  3. Petra says:

    A good book and a good recipe. A trip to the farmers market. A good, long run (too bad my hip is now starting to complain a bit!). A small piece of delicious–but pricey–cheese, just for me! A long nap sprawled across bed in the middle of the afternoon.

  4. Kathy says:

    Being in nature, especially on the water; a good book, a musical instrument, jazz music, concerts, taking some time to learn something new, both for fun and for growth.

    • wendy says:

      I went to an amazing reading this week with writers George Saunders and Bernard Cooper at the Central Library in Los Angeles. I floated out of there.

  5. Noelle says:

    Most of the time: music, my guitars, my quilts, books, flowers decadent food. Feeling at the end of the day that I’ve done something constructive.

    On Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and whenever I’m sick — NOT A DAMN THING helps.

  6. Lew says:

    Hmmm. A tricky one. My salve for solitude is most often to put myself out in the world, amongst people–via the volunteer project I’ve run for the last 14 years at which we dance with the residents of a Jewish Home up the block, tango or swing dancing, going to my local dive bar (called, literally, The Dive Bar) to watch this game or that and chat with the folks there, play tennis (hard to do in this snow here in NYC), cycling with the NY Cycle Club (a couple of bad falls have given me pause on that), taking a Boot Camp-type workout class.

    Now, for flying truly solo (which will be the case tonight because I was supposed to have a match.com date but it got postponed because of the storm), I will keep myself entertained by some combination of work (new client…excited), folding laundry (not exciting, especially when it comes to fitted sheets), reading the NY Times online, Sports Illustrated in printed form, calling my brother in FL…If it wasn’t crappy out and I had no plans, I’d look for a lecture, a seminar, a movie, maybe the Columbia basketball game vs. Harvard (tomorrow) and go by myself if I can’t find a buddy for that. Sorry for being so long winded.

    • wendy says:

      Stay dry, Lew. Hope the storm isn’t too bad.

      • Lew says:

        Just went outside. Not so bad here in NYC, at least on the Upper West. Maybe 8 inches on the sidewalks but the streets seem passable. Not a lot of traffic, of course.

        • wendy says:

          My brother sent me photos from his house outside of Boston with a tape measure verifying the snowfall. So glad to be living in Southern California.

  7. Julia says:

    Interesting that many of you describe solitude as something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
    Just out of curiosity, how many of you consider yourselves introverts or extroverts?

  8. Jalina says:

    I grew up somewhat an only child because my sisters were teens by the time I came around and I learned to keep myself entertained. My mom got me into books at a young age and to this day I love to read. I have been hoping for a really rough winter where I can sit and read all day long. Who knows, sequestration looks more like a reality for us in the federal workforce, so those furlough days might be put to good use. I would like to start using my Nook to have some reading material in a more easy to tote about form too.

    I also keep myself busy around the house…have plenty of projects and ideas floating about my head that I would like to do. I’m into working out and I have workout buddies as well as a Facebook group to keep my motivation going.

    Cooking is another biggie for me. I love trying new recipes and expanding my tastes. A new bread maker is awaiting me to start making my own rolls and bread…maybe even some pasta!

    TV is a minor player here; I try to watch more “intelligent” TV vice the crap that seems to permeate the airwaves nowadays.

    Can’t forget my cats…they are the best de-stressors to have around. They love it when I play homebody on weekends.

    So I do keep myself busy when I am not hanging out with friends. I do like my solitary time…get to recharge the batteries. A friend once told me that it is cool that I keep myself busy vice being a woman who sits around bemoaning being alone.

    Honestly I don’t feel lonely!

  9. mary c. says:

    Walks–long and short, pedicures, massages, the new House of Cards series on Netflix (for all you Kevin Spacey fans it’s wonderfully excessive), going to the movies in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, smiling at strangers makes me feel good and comfortable with solitude. Oh and the New Yorker!

    • wendy says:

      I’m glad to hear you like House of Cards. I’ve been wanting to see it. And I echo your love of movies in the middle of the day. I also enjoy going alone in the morning.

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