How to Be Happy Even when Alone

Three Methods:Becoming Self-SufficientIncreasing PositivityLearning Self-Awareness

We all have trouble being alone from time to time. Whether we are single, live alone, or simply have difficulty tolerating being by ourselves, it can be a challenge to maintain happiness when unaccompanied. Often we may look to others to fill the void. However, there are ways to be happy even when you are alone including: becoming self-sufficient, increasing your positive outlook, and becoming more self-aware.

Method 1
Becoming Self-Sufficient

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    Develop independence. Individuals, especially extroverts (social butterflies who get their energy from being around people), may sometimes rely on others to help them feel happy or content. However, in order to be happy when we are alone we first need to become less dependent on others to make us happy, and more self-reliant. If you are an extrovert , you may benefit from doing things alone so that you can practice developing social energy with strangers instead of close friends. Fortunately, you can continue to be extroverted and social even when alone.
    • Focus on developing your confidence by practicing and engaging in activities associated with being alone and delving into uncharted territory.[1] For example, if you always wanted to learn how to play an instrument you could start now. There are many tutorials online that you could use to start the learning process.
    • Try doing activities on your own on purpose. Before asking for help or wanting someone to come along, try it on your own. For example, if you usually like your partner to accompany you to the grocery store, try going alone.
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    Focus on your interests. Understand the things that you enjoy and try completing them alone. Additionally, try doing things that you have never done before in order to build up your interests and hobbies. If you are an extrovert you may have difficulty with this because you desire to be around people, especially when engaging in your interests. However, the more you practice engaging in your interests alone, the easier it will be.
    • Keep busy.[2]There are so many options of activities to explore including: art, dancing, writing, reading, playing an instrument, hiking, camping, taking care of a pet, traveling, and cooking.
    • Attempt activities while alone that make you feel social. The extrovert may like to engage in activities that resemble being social while being alone such as texting, chatting on the phone, or going on social networking sites. This can help you feel happier and more socially connected when alone.
    • You could plan or create something for your loved ones. This way, you are focusing on cultivating your relationships while you are alone.
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    Build up your tolerance to being alone. The more activities you do alone, the more comfortable you may feel with being unaccompanied. Facing your fear of being alone may help it feel less scary and more like a normal occurrence. The extrovert should focus on being completely alone (at home in your bedroom, perhaps).
    • For starters, try activities like going for walks, going out to eat, and shopping.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol or using other substances to cope with being alone.[3]
    • Know that being alone and being lonely are different.[4] You can be alone without feeling lonely.
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    Soothe yourself. Self-soothing is a prominent coping skill when learning how to tolerate being unaccompanied. If you are feeling a negative emotion (angry, sad, lonely), it is important to learn how to calm yourself.[5] Extroverts may benefit from soothing themselves because being completely alone can be especially uncomfortable for the social butterfly.
    • Validate yourself. Instead of relying on others to validate us, we need to work on validating ourselves. For example, if you are feeling like you aren’t doing a good job at work or school, try telling yourself something that a friend might, such as, “Are you serious? You are great at your job!" The extrovert may rely more heavily on social approval for validation and would benefit from learning how to build the self up.
    • Remind yourself that it's okay to be alone! It is also okay to be alone while in public.
    • Focus on your positive qualities and what you like about yourself. Understand your shortcomings also, but do not let them drag you down.

Method 2
Increasing Positivity

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    Think happy thoughts. Sounds silly, but it is so true! Introverts (those who get their energy from being alone) and individuals who have anxiety about social situations can improve their ability to be happy when alone by thinking more positively about relationships and the idea of being alone. Research suggests that people who are lonely may tend to think negatively by expecting a negative outcome in social relationships and thinking that they are already doing all they can to maintain social attachments.[6] Changing your thinking may help to decrease loneliness and increase your feelings of contentment while being alone.
    • Think about all of the reasons why being alone can be a positive thing. For example, you can do what you want without interference and you can focus on yourself.
    • Understand that being sad or lonely is a mindset. Think about all the great things you have achieved in life and how many more things you can achieve.[7]
    • Write a list of things in your life that you a grateful for such as: family, friends, food, housing, social support, etc.
    • Use positive self-talk. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts such as, "Nobody wants to spend time with me," change this thought to something more realistic like, "People that love me want to spend time with me but they are sometimes busy."
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    Love and accept yourself. Self-acceptance and self-love is a crucial component to being happy while alone.[8] Think of yourself as a friend and focus on appreciating your positive aspects.
    • If you are an introvert, remind yourself that this is your personality and is a completely natural and acceptable way to be! If you have social anxiety, accept that this is currently how you feel and that it is okay to feel this way; it is natural for people to sometimes feel anxious in certain social situations.
    • Make a list of the things you like about yourself, what you are good at, and what other people seem to like about you. Keep this list in a safe space in case you get lonely while being alone.
    • Avoid comparing yourself to others, which can lead to feelings of disappointment, jealousy, and inadequacy. This occurs when we tend to see the good in others and idealize them.
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    Cultivate relationships. Fostering healthy attachments can actually help you tolerate being alone and lead to an overall positive outlook.[9] If you feel secure about your connections, you may be less likely to feel unhappy when you are not with your loved ones. The introvert and the individual with social anxiety may seek a few close bonds (rather than many friends or acquaintances), so it is important that these relationships are strong and supportive (not abusive or dysfunctional).
    • Make your interactions count with quality over quantity. When you do spend time with others make sure you focus on connecting and conversing rather than on disengaging activities such as watching television.
    • Allow people into your life who respect you and treat you the way you want to be treated. Avoid individuals who make you feel insecure, threatened, or abandoned.
    • When you are alone, focus on the positive memories you have with the people you love. You could write down a positive memory and refer back to it.
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    Engage in positive activities. Understand what activities improve your mood. If you can’t think of any, begin by trying a new activity and seeing if it seems to make you feel better when you are alone. The introvert will likely already have activities that she enjoys alone, but may want to try activities that specifically lift the mood (such as exercise).
    • Try making a list of things that cheer you up. A list might look like: being in nature, listening to positive music, exploring new places, taking a bubble bath, going shopping, and reading an uplifting story.
    • Practice mindfulness. Using stress-reducing mindfulness can help to reduce feelings of loneliness.[10] Mindfulness is about being in the here-and-now, or living in the present moment, appreciating it without dwelling too much in the past or worrying about the future.
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    Exercise. Studies indicate that lonely individuals may be less likely to use active forms of coping.[11] However, active coping such as exercise releases endorphins in your brain which makes you feel positive and happier. The introvert or the individual with social anxiety should practice exercising in public in order to be more comfortable in social environments (perhaps running on the beach, or lifting weights at the gym).
    • Try engaging in fun exercise so it doesn’t seem like work. Such exercises include: walking, aerobic dancing, yoga, gardening, hiking, rock-climbing, biking, playing a sport (many you can practice on your own), jogging, swimming, skating, and martial arts.
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    Develop a purpose. Research implies that individuals who are lonely or feel socially rejected may lose their sense of meaning and purpose in life.[12] People can be sensitive to social rejection or lacking a sense of meaning in life. We, as human beings, need meaning in order to make sense of our existence; this comes from having a purpose.
    • Purpose can be many different things: a career, a family, religion, spirituality, helping others, giving to the needy, creating social change, healing others, and so on.
    • Start by making a list of all of your personal values (such as those listed above). Then identify a goal or purpose for each value. For example, If one of your values is spirituality, perhaps your purpose would be to affect others in a positive and spiritual way. This could include becoming part of a spiritual community and spreading knowledge about your beliefs.
    • Begin each day by looking at your list of values and goals, and finding a way to work toward. You could do something as small as smiling at a stranger in order to work toward your purpose.

Method 3
Learning Self-Awareness

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    Get to know yourself. Increasing your self-awareness can increase your ability to be happy when you are alone. The more you know about yourself and who you are, the more capable you will be at making yourself happy. Being self-aware begins by paying attention to yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.[13]
    • Spend time checking in with yourself to see how you are doing. Ask yourself questions such as, "How am I feeling? What am I reacting to? What do I want to do?"
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    Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper can help you get to know yourself through self-expression.
    • Understand your likes and dislikes. Develop a list of things you enjoy doing. [14] For example, the extrovert may enjoy being around friends, and dislike eating dinner alone. The introvert may enjoy solitary activities such as reading, and dislike being in crowded or loud environments.
    • Develop goals. Write down a list of your life goals, as well as goals you want to achieve in the next month, 6 months, and 1 year.[15][16]
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    Explore your difficulty with being alone. Personality could definitely be a factor; some individuals are simply more extroverted than others. Being extroverted means you get your energy from being around others, while being introverted means you recharge by being alone.
    • Loneliness can be a result of grief and loss, trauma, or self-esteem issues.
    • Feeling lonely due to aging is common.[17]
    • Research indicates that people who feel lonely often tend to have more: anxiety, anger, pessimism, uncomfortable feelings, and insecurities.[18]
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    Consider therapy. Feeling lonely can be a symptom of a larger issue such as depression.[19][20] If you find yourself becoming increasing lonely or not being able to tolerate being alone, it may benefit you to seek professional assistance. Psychotherapy can be a useful way to understand yourself better. It can also assist you in coping with being alone.
    • Contact your medical insurance provider for a list of approved psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists (for medication).

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Happiness & Optimism