People who begin to value alone time as they get older usually have these 5 traits

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So many studies and reports nowadays are on the topic of older folks being lonely, but have you ever noticed how, as we age, we start to crave more alone time?

I certainly have.

Over the years, I’ve noticed an increasing appreciation for solitude, not just in myself but in others around me. But I am not lonely; choosing to be alone and being lonely are not the same thing!

In researching this post, I found evidence that seems to suggest my friends and I are not alone in this. A study of older Vancouver residents found that 86% of the time, they were alone, and it was by choice.

Anyway, it’s not a universal rule, but it seems that many of us, as we get older, actually enjoy being alone.

Here are five traits I’ve observed in people who start to value their alone time as they get older, myself included. 

1) We are done conforming to other’s expectations

I think as many of us get on in years, we realize that it’s just impossible to keep everyone happy.

When I was a younger man, I stretched myself thin, attending every social gathering and taking on tasks I didn’t enjoy, all in the bid to meet the expectations of others.

Now, some of that was necessary, of course. It has been my experience that sometimes we need to “eat bitter” for the sake of our career or our family.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve started doing things just for myself, not for others. I’ve realized it’s my life and my life alone, and I don’t do things only to keep others happy anymore.

This might sound selfish, but I really don’t see it that way. I see it as a necessary evolution of self-awareness and self-respect. Prioritizing my desires has led to a more authentic and satisfying life.

I recently read a book on just this topic, and I think the author, Greg McKeown, put it well when he said, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

The book is called Essentialism. For those of you who feel like you are living someone else’s life, I’d say it’s worth a read.

2) We value time to self-reflect

When we are younger, we tend to be more reactive.

Or at least, I was that way. I would respond impulsively to challenges, snap decisions at work, or hastily make plans based on friends’ suggestions without much thought.

But as we grow older (and maybe wiser), we realize the need to be more deliberate.

How do we achieve that?

Well, self-reflection certainly plays a key role. And when done right, self-reflection takes time—time alone, more specifically.

I know this because a few years ago, I took up journaling as a structured method to enhance my self-reflection. It has become a ritual where each day ends with a quiet review of thoughts, decisions, and emotions.

This practice not only helps me understand and process the day’s events but also aids in making more informed decisions in the future. It allows for a deeper examination of personal actions and motivations, providing clarity and insight.

However, it’s only in quiet moments alone that we can ponder life’s experiences, assess our personal growth, and plan future steps in real detail.

3) We recognize the richness of focused interactions

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago, and he said, “As we get older, it’s not about having many friends but about having meaningful interactions.”

This struck a chord with me. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it’s true.

Choosing to spend time alone doesn’t mean we shun social contact; more often, it means we seek more quality and depth in our interactions. When we do choose to engage, it’s with people who add value to our lives, with conversations that are enriching and thought-provoking.

We value the depth that thoughtful dialogue brings, finding that these focused interactions often yield insights and joys that crowded, noisy gatherings rarely do.

Our alone time only helps us to better appreciate these moments, ensuring that when we do connect with others, it’s truly meaningful.

4) We strive to learn the things we never got around to learning

Do you know that quote by Greek philosopher Aristotle, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”?

Well, as far as I can see, this becomes more relevant as we grow older.

When we are young, it’s easy to think that we have time for everything and that we can learn that skill sometime in the future. But as we age, we realize the urgency of time and the importance of seizing the moment to learn and grow.

Many ‘older’ adults I know who value their alone time are passionate about acquiring new knowledge and skills. This has to be one of the best things about this digital age we live in; you can learn anything almost for free and on your own!

This pursuit of learning is not just about keeping the mind sharp; it’s about satisfying a deep curiosity about the world and exploring new interests that may have been set aside during the busier years of career and family life.

I, for instance, have taken up painting and guitar, pursuits I always thought about but never had the time for.

The point is for many of us, alone time becomes a cherished opportunity to read, study, and engage in hobbies that challenge and fulfill us.

Whether it’s taking up a new instrument, learning a foreign language, or diving into history books, these activities enrich our lives, provide a sense of accomplishment, and make our solitary hours incredibly rewarding.

5) We are creative

I hesitated to include this final point because I struggled to understand and explain it myself, but here it goes: when I’m alone, I feel more creative, like ideas flow more freely, and I’m more open to unconventional thoughts and new possibilities.

I’ve always had a creative spark in me, but now, with more time alone, I feel like it’s been amplified.

Anyway, after doing some research, I found out that this is actually backed up by science.

A 2020 study showed that solitude can significantly enhance creativity. As noted in The Telegraph, “When you don’t have any social interactions, your brain turns on its creative networks to help you pass the time.”

You really do learn something new every day!

Final words

Embracing solitude as I’ve aged has shown me that enjoying quiet moments is about much more than mere peace—it’s a profound way to live life on my own terms, enrich my experiences, and unlock potential I didn’t know was there.

Whether it’s deepening self-reflection, enhancing interactions, reigniting creativity, or pursuing lifelong learning, the value of alone time has only grown as I have.

So, here’s to finding strength and joy in the peaceful moments of solitude—they just might be the secret to a richer, more fulfilling life!

Farley Ledgerwood

Farley Ledgerwood, a Toronto-based writer, specializes in the fields of personal development, psychology, and relationships, offering readers practical and actionable advice. His expertise and thoughtful approach highlight the complex nature of human behavior, empowering his readers to navigate their personal and interpersonal challenges more effectively. When Farley isn’t tapping away at his laptop, he’s often found meandering around his local park, accompanied by his grandchildren and his beloved dog, Lottie.

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