Thuy-Vy Nguyen

The Unsung Power of Being Alone

Imagine a room. Four walls, a chair, a single window — and you. Alone. No smartphone, no distraction, just… solitude. How do you feel in that moment? Comforted? Relaxed? Or maybe a bit uneasy?

For some, solitude — those uninterrupted moments away from daily social engagement — can be a sanctuary, a haven of calmness. But for many, it can be uncomfortable, a space filled with loneliness, boredom, or even chaos.

In this talk, I will lead the audience on a journey to understand our collective hesitations about solitude – how much our perception of it is shaped deeply by the society we live in. Then I will delve into the research that explains why solitude affects us the way it does. What happens to our emotions and experiences when we are in it? Why do we sometimes seek it out, yet other times shy away from it? To wrap up, I’ll offer insights on harnessing solitude’s restful benefits.


Thuy-Vy’s bio

A Solitude Scientist

Thuy-vy is a Professor at Durham University in the Department of Psychology. She is also a Fellow at the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Well-being, and principal investigator of the Solitude Lab.

In her work, Thuy-vy explores the historical contexts and societal norms that shape our perceptions around solitude. She also researches the factors that lead to different experiences of solitude, such as our motivation, our thought processes, our emotions.

Her work on solitude has received popular media coverage in the US, UK, Canada, and Continental Europe, such as the New York Times, the Independent UK and NPR Life Kit.. She has also written for the Conversation UK and Aeon Magazine.

Thuy-vy’s first book “Solitude: The Science and Power of Being Alone” in collaboration with Netta Weinstein and Heather Hansen will explain why the idea of solitude can be foreign and challenging for many of us, but explore the possibilities of how the power of solitude can be unlocked.

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