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.
Photo credit: Maryl Gonzales