This topic can be taken in a number of ways. I’m assuming ‘being happy alone’ means being happy by yourself. This is to distinguish it from ‘being happy while single’ and ‘being happy when lonely”, which are two other ways ‘alone’ could be interpreted. If you’re looking for info on one of the other two, let me know and I can work on a future video.
It’s not always easy being alone. Being with others provides a nearly constant source of stimulation. It’s a bit easier to be in the moment and stay out of our heads, when compared to being alone. When we get by ourselves, all we have are our thoughts. Many people find this extremely uncomfortable. Depending on how you’re wired, it may be when floods of negative thoughts or uncomfortable feelings arise.
The most common response is to bury these thoughts under some sort of stimulation – watching shows, playing games, etc. When the activities are over, however, the thoughts come right back. The discomfort is back. It’s a little tough to work through without knowing your individual case, but here are 4 areas worth thinking about or working on if you’re having trouble being happy alone.
Face problems head-on
Being happy alone is often the result of trying to avoid a particular problem set. Maybe you’re stressed at work. Maybe your relationship isn’t going the way you want. Maybe your self talk and self-worth is low. Many people find that if they keep themselves busy these problems evaporate. If there’s a particular problem that haunts you when you’re alone, spend some time tackling the root of that problem. A bit vague I know, but once you identify the particular problem you can dig into resources for resolving it.
Learn to process your thoughts and feelings
Perhaps there’s not a particular challenge or problem set but just a general sense of unease any time you’re alone. A common cause for this is not having the tools or experience with managing our thoughts and feelings explicitly. If you think this might be the case, take some time to investigate tools like meditation and mindfulness for thoughts and resources around emotional regulation for feelings. Having a richer understanding, vocabulary, and toolset can do a lot for making being alone more enjoyable.
Another type of problem with being alone is a lack of structure. Another way you might construe this is boredom. By creating challenges and goals for your life, you preserve meaning, purpose, and rhythm. These goals can be small or large, but it gives you something to aim for during down time. With a goal or challenge, you’ll have something to fill your time and attention. For example, maybe your goal is to not drink caffeine for a month or make a painting every day. This can be done completely alone and plays into the factors improving well being.
These are primarily fulfilled by idea exploration or project creation. What do you want to learn about or make in the world? Focusing in this realm can help you discover a project worth investing your time into that isn’t just a simple escape and with this sense of purpose comes increased happiness and pride at accomplishment.
Invest in your well-being
While investing in well-being is a general tip for happiness, it becomes particularly relevant in the context of being alone. When we’re alone, we have more time with our thoughts and feelings which means influences like stress, hunger, tiredness etc. are stronger and more salient. They have less competition for attention. Accordingly, taking care of your well-being can make a big difference in how happy you are when alone.
Exercises & Reflection Questions
1. Are any problems causing you to be unhappy alone?
2. How familiar are you with your thoughts and feelings?
3. What goals or challenges are you currently working on?
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