Why are some people happy alone?
Being alone and being lonely…they are not the same thing. They may go hand in hand, but being alone does not have to result in loneliness.
There have been times in my life when I felt alone, dejected, miserable, and deeply lonely. It is probable, I think, that most people experience loneliness at some point in their lives. From the vantage of the prolonged social distancing, I am even more curious about the factors that result in the condition of loneliness, which, oddly enough, can occur even if you are around other people! What I am hearing from others on social media is a diverse array of experiences, everything from “I am really enjoying myself” to ” I am deeply depressed.”
There are plenty of folks who do not experience loneliness in the absence of company – they are genuinely happy alone. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are misanthropes – people who dislike people. Some people simply prefer to be alone.
Perhaps the condition of loneliness is the result of not feeling connected. This is worth exploring, whether you are happy alone or not, because connection of some kind is an integral part of human life, even if you are a misanthrope. When we experience disconnection, we are less likely to be, well…happy.
The connection connection
To be truly happy alone a person still needs to experience some kind of connection. The question is…connection to what or whom, and perhaps also how?
Consider the depth of this inquiry, because people are uniquely complex. Factors like age and personality play a role in being lonely or happy alone. Some of my socially extroverted friends are self-labeled “huggers,” while my more introverted friends cringe at the thought of getting physically close to other people. The huggers are suffering from the absence of physical contact, and cling to their online connections to get through the prolonged social isolation. The non-huggers are probably better at being happy alone, but that is not always a given either.
We must then bear in mind one very important connection, and that is to SELF. What is your relationship to the person who occupies your skin? Many of my extroverted hugger friends who are happy alone have cultivated a deeper connection to themselves. They have explored the uncharted territory of living inside out, and perhaps engage in creative or meaningful activities that afford them a sense of accomplishment and joy.
Maybe they have simply been around longer. The ability to be happy alone – in the absence of a partner for instance – also seems to increase with age. A single twenty-something is more likely to experience lonliness in the absence of friends or a partner than, say, a divorcee in her fifties. Perhaps it is because older people have lived through more of their challenges and have more experience under their belt. They have learned a few life skills that may still elude a younger person who is sorting out who they are and what they want from life.
Are YOU happy alone…or lonely?
Which one are you?
If you enjoy prolonged solitude and are truly happy alone, what are the connections that foster your happiness? I invite you to share these gifts with the lonely folks who need support. These are difficult times for so many.
Perhaps you are not enjoying the isolation. You may be climbing the walls and pining for the company of others…maybe you are truly lonely. What can be done to alleviate the pain of loneliness?
This is an unprecedented time, for better or for worse. If you have a lot of time on your hands and would like to learn how to be happy alone, there are tools available to help soften the edge of your discomfort. Maybe it is time to do a “deep dive” into your inner world and reconnect to what brings you joy. What are your interests? How can these things be explored within the confines of prolonged social isolation?
For a few useful tips on how to be happy alone, check out this healthline article. In the meantime I wish that peace and sweet connection are restored to you pronto. Remember…this too shall pass. Hang in there, friend.
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Keep calm and Brumbylon.
Thanks for hanging out with me – have a great week!