Solitude is vital for a happy life

Why we confuse solitude and loneliness

Talk of a loneliness epidemic has pathologized time spent outside of social interactions. In doing so, we have forgotten about the importance and benefits of solitude. Dr Netta Weinstein calls for a new understanding of solitude as different from loneliness, and its importance to health and creativity.

We tend to pathologize solitude. It’s easy to do, because we often confuse the idea of ‘solitude’ with that of ‘loneliness’. These conflations are not new. English speakers have, in the past, used both words, ‘loneliness’ and ‘solitude’ interchangeably. Still, in many languages around the world there is no word for (positive, or even neutral) ‘solitude’ — just being alone — that doesn’t also mean ‘loneliness’, the feeling that we don’t have enough love or care.

We hear of a “loneliness epidemic” and the connection between social isolation with degenerative diseases. We hear about ‘loners’, ‘her

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