Solitude simply cannot be avoided at times. It makes us uneasy and uncomfortable. However, equipped with the right attitude and some powerful techniques we can learn to make the best of it. We can use times of solitude as wonderful opportunities to rediscover ourselves. Not just this, but we can also learn how we can be perfectly happy alone. No matter if you’ve just went through a difficult breakup, struggle to find the right partner or simply miss your family and friends—the quality of your life does not necessarily have to be compromised by it. Here’s what you can do to make the best of being alone.
There’s an important lesson to be learned from solitude and loneliness. Even though these times can be quite tough, they also show us that our happiness does not have to depend on another person’s presence. Yet, we fear being lonely because we assume that life is only worth living with another person on our side.
Solitude is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.
There’s a major downside to always being accompanied by other people: It distracts us. Relationships can create a constant flow of mental noise that keeps us from doing what is really important in life: finding ourselves and finding happiness from within.
By placing more emphasis on receiving validation and happiness from others, we lose the ability to find strength from within. It makes us think our happiness depends on others. As a result, silence and solitude become feared. We start associating it with loneliness and unhappiness. When you’re constantly surrounded by people, finding yourself left alone can be quite a frightening experience.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Solitude gives us the opportunity to rediscover ourselves; to find ourselves and to discover who we truly are. It helps us to understand that the source of true happiness lies within and does not depend on the companionship of others. Such times of solitude and loneliness can also help us to remove the dependency on others and their shaping influence upon us.
How to Be Happy Alone – The Joy of Solitude
There lies great power in one’s ability to find contentment and happiness in solitude. The understanding of what makes you truly happy will help you to find happiness even in the loneliest times of your life. In fact, it will help you to regard solitude not as a negative thing, but as something that brings peace and a deeper understanding about life. Here’s how to live alone and be happy about it.
1. Turn loneliness into solitude
Solitude can be a profound experience when it’s not forced. However, most of the time we consider loneliness as forced solitude. As a result, we’re unhappy and uncomfortable with it. We regard it as punishment, therefore we suffer. Only by turning loneliness into appreciated moments of solitude we’re capable of being alone without feeling lonely.
Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.
A great proportion of the pain that comes with loneliness can be directly attributed to feeling helpless. When we feel a lack of control over the situation, solitude turns into forced loneliness. It feels as if we’re isolated and abandoned by the rest of the world. This makes us so fed up that we do not see the opportunities that come with solitude. Instead, we feel miserable.
The key to turn the situation around is to regain a certain level of control over your situation. You might not have a companion at the moment, but you’re definitely capable of making the best of your situation. Even when you’re alone. You only have to want to.
Finding joy in solitude will help you to reduce the negative feelings that usually come with loneliness. It helps you to regain a certain amount of control over your situation, as you start learning how you can live life to the fullest, even when alone.
2. Understand the root cause of the problem
If you want to learn how you can be perfectly fine when you’re alone, you’ll have to understand what causes the problem in the first place. In general, we suffer whenever we desire for something over which we have no control. When we’re alone, we deeply desire the presence of someone else, be it a partner, friend or mentor. As a result, we suffer as we are not able to influence our present situation.
If we’re capable of letting go of this desire for company, we’ll be able to discover the exciting opportunities that come with solitude. Once you open your mind to the new possibilities, the feelings of loneliness will slowly vanish. It will be replaced by a healthy curiosity to explore life on your own.
The idea is that instead of forcefully trying not to be alone, you start opening yourself up to be the unfoldment of things. If you’re capable of opening your mind to the state of being alone, fear of loneliness will be replaced by curiosity. It will help you to rest in a beautiful state of tranquility. Calmness is exactly what is needed to explore the wonders that can come with solitude. And in the end, it is this equanimity that will not only help you to pass the time alone, but ultimately it will help you form new relationships with like-minded people.
3. Discover what makes you truly happy
Many people have great difficulties figuring out what it is that makes them truly happy. As a result, we often associate being in a relationship or having many friends with happiness. The problem with this is that we unconsciously make our own happiness dependent on other people. If we are surrounded by others we’re happy, when we’re not in the company of others we feel isolated and unhappy. The goal should be to understand what it is that makes us truly happy—without depending on someone else. We need to discover that the true source of happiness lies within, instead of relying on others to make us happy.
If we don’t know what it is that makes us happy, why should we expect others to know? Even more so, why should we expect others to make us happy, if we’re not capable of making ourselves happy in the first place?
Use the time you have to get in touch with yourself. Solitude provides the chance to truly get to know yourself, who you are, what you stand for and ultimately from what you can draw happiness.
4. Learn to love and accept yourself
Cultivating the habit of self-acceptance helps you to soften the burden of loneliness and makes it a lot more bearable. Remind yourself that the pain inflicted through loneliness will sooner or later be replaced by the beneficial state of solitude. Make yourself aware that even though you’re suffering now, it will eventually make room for something better.
Self-love is the foundation upon which happiness depends, especially when we’re alone. It is a state of true appreciation for yourself and for who you are. It is the deep acceptance of your own being that makes you treat yourself kindly. Not only will it fuel your growth as a person, but it will also help you to develop a deep connection to yourself. It will aid you in realizing how great a deal of your happiness lies in your own hands. Once you start to understand that ultimately, others will not be able to make you truly happy, you will develop an understanding on how you can be perfectly happy alone.
When you are able to truly accept yourself for who you are, you will no longer place so much emphasis on the opinion of other people and what they think about you. In fact, it will give you a lot more independence from other people, which will further help you to be just fine whenever you’re alone.
Solitude can help us to find peace and harmony within. It opens us up for mindfulness and it might even allow us to cultivate some pretty helpful passions. But it will also allow us to redirect our focus to the inside, allowing us to no longer depend on external sources for our happiness. This fundamental understanding will show us that we already have everything we need inside of us to be absolutely fulfilled and truly happy alone.
5. Practice mindfulness
Destructive thoughts will lead us eventually to the perception that loneliness is a prison that forcefully holds us captive. Your thoughts can make or break you. For this reason, it’s important to be able to understand and control your thoughts. You might have already noticed firsthand how a tiny negative thought developed quickly into a really depressing mental state that greatly impacted your behavior. The same holds true for feelings of loneliness. One day you might find yourself wondering, “Why am I so lonely at the moment,” but before you notice it will turn into unhealthy beliefs such as, “I’m not worthy of love,” or “I will eternally be alone.”
By disciplining your thinking you can avoid such negative and destructive thoughts. Such mental discipline will enable you to recognize your feelings of isolation and unhappiness, but it will also allow you not to be devoured by these emotions. If you are able to develop this kind of discipline, it will help you greatly in understanding your feelings without being caught by them in a downward spiral.
Try to become aware of the very thoughts that make you feel bad when you’re alone. Give your very best to stop these negative thoughts before they can grow any further.
6. Become your best friend and counselor
It’s a natural tendency to seek for other people’s help when we are struggling in life. But in most cases, we only complain about our problems, instead of questioning what the cause of these problems is and what we can do about them.
If you want to learn how you can survive loneliness, it’s of the highest importance to learn to be your own counselor. None of your friends can understand your situation in its entirety, only you can. Consequently, by becoming your own advisor you’ll be able to figure out what is causing your problems, instead of turning to others solely to complain about your situation. It will not only help you to explore your problems, but it will also encourage you to find solutions to your individual problems on your own.
Once you start analyzing your situation carefully, you’ll be able to see everything that happens to you from a more objective and rational perspective. You will notice the closer you look at your situation, the more solutions start to emerge.
But why should you not only become your own counselor, but also your best friend? Well, most people assume that a best friend absolutely needs to be another person. But how should people respect and appreciate you the way you are, if you haven’t learned to accept, understand, appreciate and love yourself in the first place?
7. Cultivate your passion
What is it that you’re passionate about?
All too often we neglect the pursuit of our passions for various reasons. Sometimes, we cannot combine our passions with the plans of partners or friends. Solitude, however, gives you the wonderful opportunity to do the things you’re passionate about. Spending some time alone allows you—maybe for the first time in your life— to follow your passions without the need of other people’s approval. It’s an opportunity for you to independently do what you truly love.
There are so many curious activities one can be passionate about, it’s difficult to list them all. All it takes is the curiosity to explore new and exciting activities. For some people it’s photography, some travel and yet others learn to play an instrument, take acting classes, explore philosophy and do many other wonderful things. There is no harm in trying something new. You can only gain from it. And who knows, maybe you’ll get in touch with a lot of like-minded people that can help and encourage you on your journey.
8. Cultivate gratitude
When we’re alone we moan and complain about our situation. We regret not having a companion on our side and are being tormented by fearful visions about having to spend the rest of our life alone. In short, we only focus on the truly negative aspects of life in general and being alone in particular. The pain that is inflicted by loneliness makes us forget all the beautiful aspects of our very life. The habit of practicing gratitude helps you to rediscover the things that make your life worth living. It helps you to prevent becoming too occupied with the negative side of things by showing you everything you can be truly grateful for. It allows you to re-center your perspective on that which makes you happy.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything you already have. It will help you to discover happiness by developing contentment and appreciation for your life.
9. Find joy and beauty in the ordinary
There are days in which we take everything for granted. It does not only narrow down our focus, but it also makes it really difficult for us to spot true beauty in ordinary things of life. We take the birds for granted, so we do no longer appreciate the marvelous songs they sing. We take it for granted that we have access to fresh food and water, so we gobble it down, without taking time to enjoy every bite.
Try to rediscover the beauty in the ordinary. Find joy in doing the little things in it will fill your heart with happiness and appreciation.
10. Perfect your inner world
Being lonely scares us because it confronts us with questions we would rather not ask ourselves. We can choose to ignore these questions by mindless consumption of media, but that will only work temporarily. The alternative is to adapt by making solitude a more pleasurable experience. The key to this is to adjust your inner world to the new experience.
By adapting internally you can be at peace with everything that happens to you, even when you’re lonely.
11. Learn to relax
The single most important key to survive loneliness is to be at ease with your situation. Remind yourself that your loneliness is only temporary and will definitely not last for the rest of your life. You might be confronted with times of solitude to gain a deeper understanding about yourself and your life, or to simply learn an important lesson. For whatever reason you’re confronted with loneliness, try to take it as it is. See it for the great opportunity that it provides you. Don’t let it go unused. Use the time to grow as a person. Don’t allow it to defeat you, become stronger through it.
What are your tricks to live happy when you’re alone?
Photo credit: Maryl Gonzales
I agree, unknowingly people can hitch their happiness on others. Living in that manner, you’ll never be truly happy. Spending time by myself has allowed me to really get to know myself and what my deepest desires are. Without distractions and influences you can really get down to the root of you.
Absolutely true Lea.
Fantastic ideas. This helps me so much. Thank you for showing me light in the darkness when I’m alone.
For a very long time I couldn’t be alone and happy.What worked for me is cultivating my passion which coincidentally makes me really happy.Great read
This article is so blind and useless and shows a clear lack of understanding and empathy. I’ve been without a relationship for 10 years and without intimacy for 6 1/2. My last relationship was as a trophy wife to a rich old guy who died….so obviously I know I’m beautiful and exceptional. I’ve been a member of the High IQ society MENSA since age 14 so I’m beyond smart. I’m in great shape, funny and a good mom. I don’t need nor seek any validation of this nor do I need anyone to tell me good things about myself. I depend on no one but me and I’m proud of that. But here is the thing COMPLETELY ignored by this blind article….. I can’t touch, kiss, hug, snuggle, hold hands with myself (lets not bring masturbation into it please…it is in no way the same nor does it satisfy for 6 1/2 years and one can’t have a child through masturbation) Plenty evidence shows that orphan infants lacking touch will die, fail to thrive, and/or not intellectually mentally physically develop….and infants aren’t the only ones that NEED TOUCH TO SURVIVE. This author has OBVIOUSLY never suffered the lack of loving touch for years on end, which causes real quantifiable degeneration on body, mind and soul. You should experience this to talk about, then maybe you wouldn’t just regurgitate lame empty platitudes to us in great suffering.
If there’s anything I can do for you, just tell me. I always try to help. I’ll just ignore the hateful and aggressive parts of your comments.
P.S. This is a polite reminder that you never know to whom you are talking to. If you make such bold statements as in your comment, you should better know for sure if your accusations are true.
P.S.S. I find sentences 2-6 of your comment exceptionally interesting.
Again, if you’re looking for a solution to your problems, I’m always willing to help. I help everyone who comes to my website and I make no exceptions. But if you want to continue to spread your hatred, please do it somewhere else.
Beautiful article. I think the comment by “Love” was written in a state of acute pain & distress. Hope he/she finally “sees” your understanding, your empathy & your deep compassion.
Love, I’m sorry to read your situation. I too am alone and not by choice and miss the comfort of a human touch or hug but I do find the author’s article truly helpful and with some eye opening thoughts that can really help. You say he doesn’t understand what it means to be without someone but I think he is clearly trying to offer a helpful perspective if like you and me you are in the situation all you can do is find the positives that give you strength and hope to get through it and even better make the most of it. I hope you try reading it again with a different mindset as I truly think it is helpful. Best wishes to you.
This is great. Such a great message. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts.
I’m experiencing some personal issues these days that I chose to be alone and it made me miserable and lonely. Regrets and loneliness field me. I always thought that I can’t face tomorrow feeling like a loner and an extra appearance to other groups. I always thought that I should be myself like I used to be. But after reading this, I realized that those days helped me find myself. New ideas emerged in my mind and it brought me closer to the things I really loved. Solitude is not that bad after all. Now, a new perspective was made. I’ll use this “me-time” to rediscover myself.
Thanks and God bless.
I am so happy for you!
I’m a teenage boy that just finished reading your article and really enjoyed it. But… The person I am… The person I want to be… What I’m trying to say is that I want to love myself. But I want others to love me too. If that makes sense. Is it possible to have both?
I want to love myself when I’m alone and find happiness and bueaty in the small things. But I don’t want to love myself so much that I neglect others. Maybe my understanding of your article wasn’t so clear. You see, I found my passion which is to become an actor. I love it and I’m spending all the time I have working on improve myself towards it. But I feel like in a career like this you need the love of everyone else. You need to get on that stage have everyone love you. Do you understand me? If I love myself, will others still love me? Will I lose the small amount of people I have? Can I still go and persue my goals in life or… will it all be lost?
I just feel like if I love who I am it might change me into something that people might not love. I know that still contradicting your article but I guess I’m a greedy guy. I want love from myself aswell as others.
Thanks for Reading
Hi TJ, I share your concerns. You are quite right to question this aspect of the concept of loving oneself. In my perspective, self-love has nothing to do with egotism and self-centeredness. It is simply the acceptance of who you are, how you look like, and what defines you. It is a person’s ability to be fully comfortable with themselves. And as a result, such a person has a very high tendency to behave a lot more authentic than many others who are more self-centered or don’t like who they are.
Hey Steve, I loved your article but where would you begin with accepting solitude as the great thing it is? I am petrified of being alone to the point where when all my friends are doing things that do no involve me, and when my boyfriend (who’s in another country) has plans for something else, i have anxiety attacks and feel sick to my core, and it is exhausting feeling like this every time i’m alone.
I think there’s a great difference in forced solitude and spending time with yourself. In your case, when no one is around you, it may feel as if you are not in charge of the situation. As a result, it’s a kind of forced loneliness. In my opinion, it is important to learn to understand that you can make great use of these intervals of solitude. As you can see, it greatly depends on your perception and how you think about it. If you see this loneliness as something that is forced and undesirable, you may automatically suffer. However, when you are able to use the time you have for yourself, you may come to greatly enjoy these moments of solitude.
Very true, the true meaning of happiness is what you feel inside your heart.
This is toughtful article. Thank you. I saves the world from creating environmental mess such as divorce, orphanage, bankrupcy, argument and over population. Well articulated. Thank you again.
Heyy sir .
I recently read you article Nd its amazing ..but I want to talk about some other things of life also.not only about happiness but other aspects like stress ..thoughts ..etc. Actually i want to learn more for the better…!!!!
This article was so very helpful! It has helped me to develop a different attitude on the subject and begin a changed mindset. Thanks
I really like how you mention that this solitude may help you find like-minded people. I have been alone for most of my life – with some periods where I have hung out with people/friends that turned out to be not right for me. Perhaps if I take this time now that I am alone again to really know myself and learn to be fully alone (I actually quite enjoy being alone, but sometimes still feel isolated/lonely) and happy and discover more about me, I can slowly attract better, more like-minded friends into my life.
I have had the social life clubbing, sniff out my face. I’m so much happier being a loner I love the complete freedom of solitude I’m a introvert. We all die alone.
After 61 years of mariage and being together for 65 years, my husband is now in a nursing home. I can’t seem to stop grieving even with him in the home now for two months. I feel lost and don’t know how to live alone. I am blessed to live next door to our son who watches over me. I feel like I have no hope no excitement about anything if my husband can’t share it with me. I don’t even want to live. Life is not the same now. I do visit my adorable sweet husband and he is doing very well. He never complains. I adore this man, but after the visit, coming home without him throws me into depression. My husband is 84 and I am 79 and have never been alone.
You have truly been blessed to have a partner like your husband. You will learn to adjust to your new living arrangements soon. Do not despair. You need to rediscover the little girl you once were and learn to enjoy what you used to love. Play the music you love, watch funny programs, try creating something artful or playing games online. A cat or dog to share your home may also be a good idea. Go rescue one tomorrow! Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.
I lost my husband in April after a long marriage as well. No matter how you think you have prepared for one person leaving first, you cannot be prepared for that separation. All of Steve’s suggestions were good, but I would also suggest reading some good books on grieving, and understanding that it is not a quick process, nor is it the same length of time for everyone. It is a journey that we all must make at some point in our lives. Those that live on must learn to live well, to honour those that have passed.
I am a kind, sensitive, giving, intelligent and attractive person (not bragging, but giving perspective to my story). I grew up in a house with an angry, abusive father and was bullied in middle school. I experienced a lot of anxiety as a child. I can remember loving to walk home alone from school and enjoyed my mother’s company when my father wasn’t home from work yet. I quickly learned not to depend on people because most people are selfish and capable of incredible cruelty. If you really want to surround yourself with people, simply learn how to compliment and amuse them. You will quickly find yourself at parties, being included in groups and likely unfulfilled. I used to think that others would make me happy. I married, had children, got a degree and had a part time business for 20 years. The only thing missing was true love. My husband turned out to be quite selfish and angry a lot. I often feel lonely when he is home. Although he supports us financially, we don’t sleep together due to his snoring and he has never been supportive emotionally or of my aspirations. I walk on eggshells around him at this point because the least little thing sets him off. This evening he blew up again and went to a hotel (he loves to withhold affection, start conflicts and leave unresolved). I can honestly say that I am enjoying having the house to myself. Enjoying doing things by yourself is a blessing. There is amazing freedom in being alone to decide what, when, where and how you will do whatever you’d like without being judged having to please others. As I get older, socializing is becoming exhausting, although I do enjoy occasionally chatting on the phone with a couple of old friends. I’d much rather read or play games online or create art or watch a movie or funny tv show. My adorable dog is my best friend. I would highly advise getting a dog to the sad Mensa woman. Alone time is freedom.
Well, I can never be at peace again because my family all died within weeks of each other and my youngest sister was my BEST FRIEND. I am constantly blaming myself for making mistakes at the time which led to my sister being hospitalised where she died. I cannot forgive myself for that. So, solitude was FORCED upon me and I hate it. And I will be alone for the rest of my life and that is guaranteed.
Sadly, my solitude was FORCED due to my family dying. My youngest sister was my BEST FRIEND. At 62 years of age – I WILL live out my life in FORCED solitude. I have absolutely NO intentions of ever seeking for husband number 3 and the last two marriages were absolutely shocking and violent, so I will not be looking for anyone else.
I like it