The source of true happiness lies within us.
And while you can always turn to other people for a mood boost, there’s nothing quite like being content with your own company. That being said, can you be happy alone?
Yes, but it’s all a matter of perspective.
The word “alone” sometimes carries a negative connotation, as many compare it to being alone and, well, sad. However, this is simply not the case as the two words have completely different meanings.
“Feeling alone is completely different from being alone. Loneliness is a feeling of being alone in a situation,”.
With the right techniques, you can overcome this feeling of loneliness, whether you’re single, going through a breakup, or simply being miles away from the people you love. “For example, if you’re lonely but you connect with others through good communication or activities like volunteering, you don’t feel lonely,” she said.
The ability to enjoy the joys of quality alone time may just be the ultimate act of self-love. Not to mention that being alone — whether by choice or circumstance — gives you time to be “introspective, creative, or engaged in activities like journaling, painting, reading a book, or building something for your house.”
Read on for expert-backed tips and tricks on how to be happy on your own. Implement one (or all) of these techniques in your everyday life to remind yourself that happiness must always begin and end with you. Who knows, you might even find that you’re a better friend, partner, and colleague because of it.
Develop an exercise routine
Have you ever noticed how your mood improves after a quick walk around the block? It’s no secret that a simple walking routine is beneficial for your health. In addition to lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, walking — fast or slow — helps relieve stress and increase mindfulness, according to research.
“On a biological level, the endorphins released by exercise improve mood. Psychologically, the more you get involved and the better you get, that sense of mastery increases confidence and self-esteem, which makes you feel happier,” said Dr Nirajan, MD.
It’s even better when you can do your workout outdoors, “as time spent in nature also helps improve mood.”
Stop comparing yourself to others
When scrolling through social media, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are – and what sets you apart. Dr Nirajan warns that social media can often lead to comparison, also known as the “joy thief”.
“Comparing yourself to others can make you feel inadequate, inferior and left out, potentially leading you to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety or low self-esteem,” she said.
If you feel down, stop scrolling and remember that we are all on different paths. According to Lee, the best way to get out of that negative space is to practice acceptance and cut out any of the emotional triggers, like Instagram or Facebook.
Your career, family and daily commitments keep you busy enough, but what do you do for yourself? Dr Nirajan recommends revisiting an old hobby or finding a new one that sparks joy. Choose something that encourages creativity, like starting photography or signing up for a ceramics course.
Volunteer in your community
Helping others is good for your heart – and your head. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Happiness found that people who volunteer are happier than those who don’t.
“Volunteering and giving back help you find purpose. By identifying a cause you care about and dedicating your time to it, you connect to something beyond yourself, and this can increase your sense of happiness,” said Dr Nirajan, MD.
Just like looking into a physical mirror, self-reflection is a simple way to get a glimpse of who you are – from the inside out.
Dr Nirajan suggests activities like journaling, practising mindfulness, and expressing gratitude to help you better understand who you are and what you need. In return, you will be able to connect with others on a deeper level.
Be bold and try new things
Remember when you first tried kale and liked it? Sure, it can be daunting, but trying new things opens up a whole new world for you.
Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to try, from bold foods to unusual activities. One by one, check the items on your list and discover a few favourites along the way.
Lean on animals for emotional support
All pet parents know that they are never truly alone – as long as they have their furry baby by their side. Dr Nirajan couldn’t agree more: “Emotional support animals can bring people immense joy and companionship.”
If you think having your dog or cat with you would help on your solo journey, then Dr Nirajan recommends contacting your doctor to see if you can register your pet as an emotional support animal. That way, “you can take them to certain places related to housing and travel”.
Put yourself first
While this is often easier said than done, Nirajan suggests taking the time to get to know yourself. After all, “the most important relationship we have is the relationship with ourselves”.
Treat the relationship with yourself like any other relationship in your life, prioritizing your wants and needs. Maybe that means scheduling daily workouts, reading daily affirmations, or setting aside five minutes a day to write down your thoughts. By filling your cup, you will have space and energy for everyone else.
get out in nature
Research shows that spending time outside leads to a happier, more relaxed state. For example, a 2020 study published in Human Scientific Reports found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week improved people’s overall health and well-being.
Nirajan adds that fresh air and sunlight can lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and overall stress. Getting out in nature also clears the mind, leading to better working memory, cognitive flexibility, and attention control.
In other words, you will become one with yourself by becoming one with nature.
Live the moment
So often we save life’s little luxuries – expensive candles, tiered cakes, whatever – for special occasions. The real secret to being happier alone is living your best life 24/7, 365. “Don’t wait for someone, something, or a milestone to dictate your happiness,” Lee said. of joy and abundance.”
Take this as your permission to light every candle, bake every cake, and do whatever makes your heart happy.