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Is One Really the Loneliest Number?

Is One Really the Loneliest Number?

February 19, 2020

In 1969 a song was released about being single called “One is the Loneliest Number.” Made famous by Three Dog Night, the recording reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 that year and number four in Canada. The song is known for its opening line:

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

Two can be as bad as one,

It’s the loneliest number since the number one” 

Is one REALLY the loneliest number? Do you sometimes feel awkward about living alone? Are your friends telling you to remarry, get out of the house, or to stop spending so much time by yourself? Solitude is not a disease and the facts prove how healthy it can be to be alone:

  • In one study, solitude chosen for intrinsic, self-determined reasons was positively correlated with well-being.
  • Our affinity for solitude, especially in nature; walking in the woods or spending time alone outdoors, is actually enjoyed by many people and it increases a strong desire for even more solitude.
  • There is a term called “aloneliness” that defines the negative feelings that arise from not spending enough time alone.
  • Spiritual depth and deep mystical experiences are often accompanied by solitude. The bible even teaches “whenever you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mt. 6:6) Jesus himself would “withdraw to desolate places to pray” (Luke 5:15-16.

According to one study, over 36 million people were living in single-person households or almost 28% of the U.S. population in 2019, a number that has almost doubled over the past 50 years. Data reveals that national income and the amount of one-person households are correlated. This indicates that people are more likely to live alone in more prosperous countries vs. poorer locations. But there must be much more to the choice of living alone than just materialism. 

Social interaction with friends, family and other human beings is physically and emotionally healthy. It is equally important to understand that experiencing solitude is not necessarily indicative of feeling lonely. In fact, solitude is just as essential to our well being as sociability. For many individuals, loneliness and solitude are not the same. 

How can you incorporate more solitude into your life today? 

  • Take time each day to listen. Savor the quiet. Turn off anything that creates noise and spend time listening to the sounds of your surroundings. Listen to your thoughts. Whether you are in your home, or out in nature, you will find peace in the quiet of solitude.
  • Take walks. Step away from the frenzied activities of home and work to walk in a park or wooded area. Shinrin-yoku, a form of nature therapy sometimes called “tree bathing” originating in Japan, encourages you to be in nature, open your senses, and inhale the fragrance of the evergreens around you. These excursions are proven to lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and see depression or hostility decline when practiced regularly.
  • Avoid fast paced locations, or anything that reminds you of work.  Find peaceful, uncluttered spots where you can sit for 30-45 minutes in solitude. Even better if there is a beautiful view of creation to contemplate as you enjoy the quiet.
  • Pray. Solitude is the perfect time to not just “unload” the cares of your heart, but to spend time in stillness, allowing God to speak to your heart in that still small voice.  It is during these times that you may notice how God ‘rewards you in secret’, as birds arrive or the beauty of His creation unfolds before you. 

If you find yourself feeling secure and happy when spending time alone, living in solitude is a great choice for you. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be introverted to live in solitude.  When you embrace being alone, one is not ‘the loneliest number in the world’ and the expectations of others fall away as you finally are able to hear your heart speak, and find refreshment for your soul.

Living alone is welcome at CRISTA Senior Living.  We connect & celebrate generations through grace, compassion & inspiration. You can find out more at www.cristaseniorliving.org or call today to schedule a visit.