A guest post by Jamie Hoang
I have a lot of friends because I love to meet new people. It’s the greatest part about living in any major city, there are always new people to stumble across. For the most part I love having lots of friends, but because I have so many it’s hard to keep up with all of them and I find my schedule booked weeks in advance for coffee, drinks, dinner, shows etc.
An active flaw in my personality is a lack of patience. I don’t like to be late, usually because I have things planned back to back, but also because I have a pretty antsy personality and I don’t like waiting for other people. My friend Ryan tells me all the time that I need to just chill out. So the other day I was sitting at a bar alone, waiting for my friend Amy to arrive and I could feel the itch–I needed to optimize my time.
Instantly I whipped out my phone and started checking my e-mails, text messages, twitter, facebook etc. Who have I not responded to yet that I need to reply to? After going through the usual motions and replying to some recent e-mails I put my phone down and started to look around.
The place was nice, cozy even, with vibrant chatter happening all around me. Because of the social atmosphere I felt strange to be sitting alone and not doing anything. But I had nothing to do and flipping through my phone for no good reason seemed stupid so I decided to just be uncomfortable. Then a funny thing happened…I started reveling in the time alone. It was just snippets of time 5 minutes here or 15 minutes there, but I find it really refreshing.
I’ve never meditated before, but I imagine that the quiet is what draws people in and having acquiesced some semblance of it, I really enjoy it. This surprised me because up until now I loved loud places. So what sparked the change?
I think I used to equate silence with being alone and at the time I didn’t have enough confidence to really traverse the world by myself. My jam packed schedule was purposefully designed that way because I hadn’t mastered the art of doing nothing. Well, to be quite frank, I thought it was a load of crap.
A year ago, when I moved to Houston, I had every intent to change my ways. I wasn’t going to make a lot of friends because I wanted to focus on my book–and I did. In 3 short months I had written over 300 pages and had a complete first draft of my novel. As a token of my accomplishment I gave myself the day off.
I had no plans, no itinerary, and no intention to see anyone. Want to know what I did? I drove to a book store, bought a book, found a nice patch of grass at Hermann Park and spent the entire day either reading or starring up at the sky lost in my own thoughts.
It felt great. I felt great. Maybe it’s something that just comes with age, but I really appreciated and enjoyed just hanging out with myself. I think often times we confuse being alone as being lonely. But in reality, I think those who are content with being alone tend to be the most happy. Happiness that comes from within has a very strong foundation.
“Happiness is a state of mind.” — I’ve heard that phrase many times, but no one really talks about how to get to that state of mind. More importantly, I think people go about finding it in all the wrong ways by filling their days with activities that only stay the problem and not necessarily fix it.
The happiest people I know are the ones to meditate on a daily basis. They are grounded and content and everything that happens in life is simply taken in stride. It’s not that their lives aren’t complicated or that really bad things don’t happen to them. But they are better equipped to handle those things because they’ve spent enough time on themselves that problems become less emotional.
So… take a day off and do nothing but spend it with yourself. Go to a spa (or use the gym’s sauna and Jacuzzi), read a book outside, take a stroll through Central Park…whatever. Give yourself some time with you because I think you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy your own company.
About the Author
Jamie Hoang is a Los Angeles based writer, designer, world traveler, tea drinker and lover of the great outdoors. A firm believer in trying everything at least once, she’s always learning. Her work can be found at heyjamie.com or tweeting as @heyjamie