With a background in life sciences and education, Amanda often writes informative, actionable articles about health and well-being.
Alone But Not Lonely
In the modern world, whether in the heart of a city or in rural isolation, more people suffer from a sense of loneliness today than ever before in human history. Given the hyper-connectivity we have with the internet, social media, apps and mobile phones, it's one of the great anomalies of out times. We may not be able to change the course of history, but we can take control of our own thoughts and feelings. Alone or in a crowd, you can overcome loneliness and find inner peace and well-being.
Many people live alone. You may be alone by choice or because of divorce, separation, bereavement, illness, or maybe you haven't found the right companion just yet. You may be gregarious by nature, or an introvert. Living alone doesn't have to be a lonely or unfulfilling experience. If you're feeling lonely and depressed, you must learn how to live a happy life alone. But how can you be happy alone? Here are seven great ideas for ways you can find happiness and value in your life, even when you are by yourself.
1. You Don't Need Other People's Approval
When you're alone, either for the day or for longer, remember that you are a great person with your own value. You don't need the constant affirmation of other people's opinions for you to enjoy being you. Think about all the positive personal qualities you have, the creativity and skill you bring to your work and life: that all comes from you. Value yourself for who you are.
2. Be Connected
One difficulty of being alone is feeling lonely and depressed. That feeling usually comes when you feel disconnected. But you can change that perspective once you understand how to live a happy life alone.
Even if you're not hanging out with someone all the time, that doesn't mean you're not a full and valuable member of the human race. Be by yourself in nature, even if that's just the local park. Listen to the rain. Walk barefoot on the grass. Wake up and smell the flowers.
Contact with animals can also help you get that sense of connection. Many people who live alone find great pleasure and comfort in keeping a pet. While dogs and cats are among the most common pets, small mammals and birds can be affectionate, too.
Be happy to see other people and learn to understand them. Make the connections between the way they behave and the way you do. You don't have to be rubbing shoulders and chatting with people to feel connected. Learn to feel connected even when you're alone.
3. Appreciate Peace and Silence
One of the great benefits of being alone is the opportunity to enjoy deep silence and personal reflection. People always in the center of a crowd don't get that chance. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, or just to sit in a peaceful spot and enjoy the calmness solitude can bring can help. Finding peace in solitude will teach you how to live a happy life alone.
4. Learn to Listen and Be Kind
Even if you are alone, you will still interact with other people. You may chat to a storekeeper, someone waiting in line with you, or someone who comes to your door. Learn to value every interaction, every conversation, and to listen to what is being said. Deepening your contact with others in this way will help you connect and remind you that even if you prefer being alone, other people have value too.
5. Think and Act with Mindfulness
If you're alone, it can be tempting to fill up the "empty space" with entertainment, TV shows, comfort food and other distractions. Psychological studies have shown that such behavior can lead to a deepening sense of loneliness. Remind yourself there's a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Settle into the quietness, be mindful and recognize that alone within yourself, you can be happy and at home.
6. Be Creative
Most entertainment is passive. It's an escape from reality. If you're alone, you have wonderful opportunities to be active and create something new and beautiful. Try your hand at painting, or learn to play a musical instrument, or take a course of study. The satisfaction that comes from creativity and learning is one of the best antidotes to feeling lonely and depressed.
7. Find a Way to Help Others
There are so many good causes looking for volunteers to help out. Look for schemes for visiting elderly and isolated people, offering them practical support and friendship. Or search out support programs for young mums. There are wildlife charities, help for orphans, homeless people, immigrants, educational and arts programs. If sometimes being alone is hard for you, a great way to get rid of the sense of loneliness is to become a valuable contributor to other people's lives.
The Value of Solitude
Whether you live alone by choice or by chance, there are many ways to avoid feeling lonely. If you've been lonely for a long time, it can be scary taking the first step. But have courage and take heart: it's beautiful to be alone and with a little creative effort, you can learn how to live a happy life alone with feeling lonely and depressed.
© 2018 Amanda Littlejohn
Amanda Littlejohn (author) on November 11, 2018:
Thanks for your comment. Loneliness is a great problem in our culture, but it isn't, as you point out, a necessary consequence of solitude or not being in a marriage or other partnership.
You could say that being alone is a social state and loneliness is a psycho-emotional state. While we may not have much control over the first, there's a lot we can do to decide what we want the second to be. Not always easy for everyone, but always possible for anyone.
FlourishAnyway from USA on November 09, 2018:
Whether it’s divorce or death of a spouse, children going off to college, a spouse who travels for work, or never marrying many people face this. I enjoy my time alone thankfully.