For me, the whole question of how to be alone and happy is incorrectly framed from the start, as in a perfect world we would never be alone in the first place. Our psychological default is to have people around us, and studies repeatedly show a correlation between social isolation and unhappiness.
Still, despite technological progress we have experienced in the recent years, social isolation is becoming a global phenomenon and more and more people report being deeply unhappy because, on average, we have very few deep relationships.
As such, in the article, we will explore whether or not it is a good idea to be alone and happy, and what to do if we even find ourselves to be lonely.
Why We Want to Learn How to be Alone and Happy?
Everyone wants to be happy, but it is not always clear what exactly we should do to feel happier (hence, my blog). As such, social isolation (being alone) is one of the reasons why we feel unhappiness in modern day society.
Evolutionary speaking, this makes perfect sense. We come from a long lineage of hunter-gatherer tribes which for hundreds of thousands of years spent the majority of their time in a group of about 150 people. This number became a psychological default, which is why today we often feel lonely because we don’t have enough deep relationships in our lives. Certainly, we were never supposed to stay alone in our apartments, with our smartphones, TVs, and other modern day advances that promote social isolation.
The Real Solution For Happiness
Many people don’t have enough friends, but they are also anxious to put themselves in situations that would lead to building new social connections. It is just too difficult, time-consuming, and outright scary.
Again, evolutionarily speaking, this behavior makes sense. We don’t like rejection, as being rejected in a hunter-gatherer tribe could lead to social isolation, which meant almost certain death. Still, often we only have our families (which may be dysfunctional), a few friends from school, university, work, or some other extracurricular activity and that’s about it. No wonder so many people feel alone, which leads to unhappiness and our desire to do something about it. However, learning to be alone does not seem to be the answer either, as we are not addressing the core issue.
Instead, we need to learn to put ourselves out there and meet new people on a regular basis, by subscribing to clubs, attending events, and by going to other social activities. The goal is not necessarily 150+ meaningful connections, but enough people to not feel alone. Therefore, we don’t need to know everyone in the world or be social 24/7, but most of us we do need to make an extra effort if we are feeling lonely.
When We Feel Alone Despite Having Many Friends
Of course, having tons of online “friends” on social media channels like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram does not necessarily mean that we feel connected. I know this first hand, as once I was stuck in Vietnam inside a village where no one spoke English, and due to a large workload, I didn’t make any attempts to be social. Yes, despite speaking with over 50 people via video calls, in chat, or by interacting with them via social media posts, after a week of this, I started to show signs of depression.
So friends online don’t necessarily translate into offline friends, and we really need face-to-face conversations to feel connected with other people. Indeed, we need to touch them, and be touched, to see them, and laugh at their jokes. Perhaps the only time when it is good to be alone is after we spent enough time being social.
Alone and Happy vs. Single and Happy
Yes, there is a difference between being (1) alone and happy and (2) single and happy. Being single does not automatically mean that we are alone. We may have friends, family, coworkers, or otherwise vivid social life, which will make us happy.
Instead, we are perfectly capable of being single and happy. We can also be deeply unhappy in a relationship, which is why we should not just look for any relationship (or marriage) and instead we want to have a happy relationship, which we can build if we follow certain good relationship guidelines (or relationship CV, as I called it in a different article).
Take Yourself on a Date
A different interesting happiness advice on how to be alone and happy is to take yourselves on a date. For example, we won’t always have the right people to give us exactly what we want from life (e.g., flowers, chocolates, or a trip to Maldives), so sometimes it is smart to get these things ourselves. Yes, go to cinema, travel, and bungee jump alone. Don’t wait for other people to give these things to you, especially if they failed to deliver these things in the past. Don’t wait, beg, or get angry at others because they are not giving you exactly what you want it life and go get these things for yourself. Be brave and proud to do it alone.
You are a different person from others and you have different needs. Often, if these needs aren’t satisfied within a relationship (be that friends, family, love or otherwise relationship), we have almost a moral obligation to satisfy these needs ourselves. Certainly, no one is perfect and if one person prefers staying at home and watching a movie, a different person wants to go to a cinema. We are all different and no one person can give us everything that we want, which is why we want to have many different people in our lives. And if ever we don’t have that one perfect person to take us out on a date, then we should do it alone, and likely we will meet someone new who might be that right person for us.
Should You Be Alone and Happy?
Again, I’m sorry if I didn’t provide you with a good advice on how to be alone and happy, since being lonely is just the wrong goal. The real goal is to learn to build enough meaningful and positive relationships so we are happy in the first place, as any advice that promotes being alone and happy will not give you ultimate and long-lasting satisfaction.
As such, if ever you feel lonely and unhappy, this is a perfect indicator that it’s time to go out and making new connections. The right people are unlikely to appear in our lives overnight, so we are recommended to look for opportunities to be social until we feel like we have enough meaningful relationships, and we can feel happy.