Creativity and Gratitude Turns Loneliness Into Solitude
As humans, we are wired to seek out connection and belonging, but we don't always find it. Loneliness arises when we don't have that connection or sense of belonging. However, loneliness is a feeling rooted in fear and pain. Pain is unavoidable, but fear often encourages us to hold onto pain.
When I moved to a new country, Sweden, I said goodbye to friends, family, a job, and a loving relationship, I was suddenly alone and feeling quite lonely. The sudden distance from home created a new longing for connection and I found that creativity and gratitude became the two major practices in my life that helped me realize that while loneliness and solitude are the same places, they are two completely different mindsets. So as I took time to adjust to the new country I embraced these two practices long enough to fight the lonely feeling.
Creativity is the only form of expression that is 100% our own and due to this nature, creativity is our most vulnerable form to be in. If our creativity reveals another form of our soul or our individuality, then we should use it to form more authentic connections. We should let creativity be the gateway to connecting with other people and according to Brene Brown “this is the way we share our souls with the world.”
When I moved to Sweden, I was in the mindset of starting new, also within myself. So I started to wonder, how can I share my soul with the world? I decided to create my own yoga community where I could practice a core value of mine - service, with my passion for teaching yoga, I thought it would be easy, but I was wrong.
At first, I struggled with creating something new for the first time. I had no idea if people even practiced yoga in the small Swedish city I had moved to. I had no idea how to even start a company and being in a totally new place I didn't have anyone to help out with the setup details. The only thing I knew how to do was teach yoga but knowing the joy I could feel from teaching yoga was enough for me to tap into my creativity.
Through the practice of creativity (in this case teaching yoga) something quite powerful began to happen. I was suddenly surrounded by people who made me a better person and people I genuinely enjoyed being around. I believe the connections I have made have become stronger because they originated from my creativity. By keeping creativity at the forefront of my mind, I have allowed myself to explore an emotional depth I never imagined I could have experienced. By putting myself out there, I was suddenly able to connect with so many different types of people, all willing to share their creative interests with the world.
For me, experiencing my creativity has given me the opportunity to feel worthy instead of searching for my worthiness. To initially spark my creativity, I began by writing down 5 values in my life and 3 activities that I enjoy doing. Then, I combined my values and activities and started expressing myself!
The fear of being lonely and the feeling of loneliness arises when we cannot accept the present moment for what it is. Being grateful for what we do have allows us to accept our current situation and helps us practice self-compassion.
My practice of creativity is only as powerful as my practice of gratitude. I try to be grateful for what comes each day. At times, my creativity doesn't bring me the connections I had hoped for, but in those moments I focus on how grateful I feel for the opportunity to be able to be creative. By practicing gratitude, I don't let my failures determine my worthiness. Gratitude allows me to accept the negative feelings associated with loneliness and reminds me to continue practicing even more gratitude. Gratitude allows me to continuously appreciate the connections I make through my creativity.
I try to use creativity and gratitude as a feedback loop to transform my loneliness into solitude, using my daily reflections on this loop as a learning tool to gradually adapt my perception of loneliness. Turning loneliness into solitude is a process. Fear is not only an obstacle in the process but it belongs in that process.
If you can accept that we are always alone in our solitude, then you realize that there is actually nothing wrong with being alone. Ask yourself next time you feel alone: why do I consider this a negative feeling? Next time you feel alone, ask yourself how you can create your own feedback loop of practicing gratitude and creativity to learn to appreciate your own solitude. And with this acceptance of solitude, you will find an entirely new appreciation for connecting with others.
Drew, Lost in Creativity