15 Ways to Be Happy Alone and Live a Full Life
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Do you remember when you were younger–maybe 12 or 13–and your parents would go out to run errands or something and leave you home alone?
If you’re like me, the second you heard that door shut and you had the house to yourself, you felt this incredible sense of unprecedented freedom to do whatever you wanted for the next few hours–and it was absolutely wonderful.
Fast forward however many years to the present, and, for many people, the formerly coveted time of having no one around may not feel quite as indulgent. Of course, we all need some time to ourselves to either tend to our responsibilities or simply take a break from our hectic lives, but many people ultimately want to have someone in their corner to come home to at night.
Recently, I think we have all had a little more “alone time” than we ever anticipated, and it’s probably fair to say that this has been challenging for everyone. And while some may think that social distancing is tougher for extroverts than it is for introverts, studies show that the opposite may actually be true because extroverts are more likely to be active on social media and keep in touch with friends–and they’re more likely to be resilient during these times and maintain hope for the future.
But, despite anyone’s personal characteristics or social tendencies, we’ve all been forced to navigate life a bit more solo than we’re used to during this COVID-19 pandemic, and it has undoubtedly affected everyone in unique ways. And even if you do have a family that you still come home to every night, that sense of isolation is still lurking.
Yes, the current collective practice of social distancing is a critical component to minimizing the spread of illnesses, but this same practice can have a large negative impact on people’s happiness and mental health. In fact, having positive social interactions is among the strongest predictors of happiness, so is it possible to live a full life if your “social distancing” practice is set for a more long-term basis?
People come by happiness in various ways. Studies show that the three main things that make people happy are:
No matter what challenges, crossroads, and lifestyle changes you encounter, at the end of the day, your happiness is what truly matters the most. And whether you live alone by choice or you just haven’t found the right partner, it is absolutely possible to live a fulfilling life.
Now, if you’re questioning how to do this, it’s important to first make the distinction between being alone and being lonely–because these are two different things. Of course, if you don’t want to be alone, but you’ve ended up in that position, you may have a hard time resisting feelings of loneliness, which can have negative implications for your health. And that is exactly what we are addressing in this article.
When you can identify and engage in the things that make you happy, practice self-care, maintain positive habits, and leave some room to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, you will be able to see how empowering being alone can be. You can be happy alone and resist feelings of loneliness, and doing so will support you in living a full life.
Let’s look at 15 ideas for things you can do to live a life that you’re completely satisfied with while being on your own.
(Side note: Another positive
What You Will Learn
- 15 Ways to Be Happy Alone and Live a Full Life
- 1. Figure Out What Makes You Truly Happy
- 2. Give Yourself a Fresh Start
- 3. Practice Self-Love
- 4. Exercise and Build a Healthy Lifestyle
- 5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
- 6. Find Your Passion and Cultivate It
- 7. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- 8. Use Your Alone Time Wisely
- 9. Learn to Appreciate the Present
- 10. Practice Gratitude for What You Have
- 11. Build a Strong Network of Family and Friends
- 12. Recognize You’re Fine Being Alone
- 13. Volunteer Your Time
- 14. Make Plans for Your Future
- 15. Accept Yourself for Who You Are
- Final Thoughts on Living a Full and Happy Life Alone
15 Ways to Be Happy Alone and Live a Full Life
1. Figure Out What Makes You Truly Happy
Now, you’re probably thinking, “I do know myself. How can you not know yourself?” But since you’re reading this article looking for tips to be happy and live a full life, then chances are, you haven’t yet found what really makes you tick.
The good thing about being alone is that it gives you the freedom to be selfish with your time and put your needs, desires, and ambitions above all others (as these being alone quotes suggest). It’s time to set your short-term to-do list aside, take a break from your everyday process of “getting things done,” and consider the following questions:
Not only will answering these questions help you uncover what truly makes you happy, it can also help you refocus your energy to head in a new (and improved) direction.
2. Give Yourself a Fresh Start
Yes, it is healthy to have a routine. But when looking back, if you can’t distinguish 2018 from 2012, you’ve taken the “routine” thing a bit too far. You have to keep yourself stimulated with things happening in your life and give yourself opportunities to grow and evolve.
It’s time to take an inventory of your bucket list and look more closely at new places you want to explore, skills you want to learn, and goals you want to ultimately reach in your life. Turn off your autopilot and get excited about the possibilities that are available to you.
And you can start small. Sometimes all it takes to feel refreshed and happy is to change something simple about your daily routine. Or maybe it’s time to rearrange your furniture or redecorate your house. By changing something about your surroundings or about your day-to-day life, you can start fresh and rid yourself of feelings that your life is stagnant.
Remember, part of being happy alone is realizing that you’re living for yourself and no one else. If you want to start a new hobby, do it. If you want to travel somewhere, do it. If you want to paint your living room neon yellow, do it.
3. Practice Self-Love
Many of us are our own worst critics. We often take striving for excellence and doing our best to the next level, which is striving for perfection. This leads us to unnecessarily beat ourselves up over our mistakes. And when you’re battling with this inner bully and don’t have a partner to regularly remind you that you’re actually pretty amazing, it can quickly lead you down a path of depression and negativity.
Studies show that there are three main elements to having compassion for yourself:
There are a lot of ways to increase your love for yourself, which will prevent you from placing blame on yourself for things that are out of your control and increase your satisfaction with your life.
Here are some strategies to try:
Having some time alone will allow you to be mindful of your thoughts and surroundings. You will be able to feel happiness and peace and know that you already have everything inside of yourself that you need to be completely fulfilled.
If you’re at a low point, make the effort to get out of the house and be around friends and family who love you and who will help you take your mind off of whatever it is that’s bringing you down.
If you find yourself avoiding making plans, try committing to something upfront. For example, pay for a 10-week kickboxing class or sports league. Once you have made that upfront commitment, you will be less likely to back out when the time comes to actually do it.
4. Exercise and Build a Healthy Lifestyle
(Side note: One of the best ways to build a healthy lifestyle is to start each day by drinking this healthy green juice, which provides your body with a proprietary alkaline greens blend of organic wheatgrass, wheatgrass juice, and matcha green tea, supplying your body with the nutrients and energy you need to get through the day.)
Maybe it’s time to reconnect with yourself on a physical level by starting a new exercise program that will help you get into shape, feel good about your body, and give you the numerous benefits of endorphins.
Working out shouldn’t feel like a chore, which is why there are some great programs like spinning, Zumba, or even Xbox games that allow you to work out with others while having fun. Some other ideas include:
The other part of building a healthy lifestyle is to look at your diet, which can impact both your mental and physical health just as much as your activity level. Keep a food journal for a week to get a quick reality check of your eating habits and then make any necessary changes. Look at both what and how much you’re eating. By controlling your portion sizes, you will help keep yourself healthier and happier and reduce feelings of lethargy. Also, be cognizant of times when you’re eating out of boredom or because you’re feeling sad.
Finally, let’s not forget about maintaining a positive sleep schedule, which is a vital part of having the energy to function optimally throughout the day. One of the best benefits of being alone is that you can take up the whole bed without getting kicked or nudged in your sleep! And if you're feeling fatigued in the morning, then you can check out this masterclass on how to increase your energy.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but you don’t really know what’s going on behind closed doors in someone else’s life. I look back on some pictures from years ago when I was out with friends, bar hopping and staying out late. And of course I look like I’m having the time of my life, but I know I was miserable living that lifestyle. And I knew it at the time, too! But I’d smile for two seconds for the camera, of course.
Don’t keep track of the number of social activities you have per week if they aren’t things that are making you happy. Honestly, sometimes the best types of social plans are the ones that are cancelled. I don’t mean to sound like a recluse, but the feeling of having a last-minute free night to yourself instead of fighting traffic to get downtown after work to sit in a loud restaurant is elating… 9 out of 10 times.
So when you’re sitting at home scrolling through social media and seeing pictures of friends out and about, are you really jealous? Because, chances are, a number of people in that picture would probably rather be in your shoes than in their own.
6. Find Your Passion and Cultivate It
Think of something you’ve always wanted to do.
Now is the time to do it!
When you’re alone, you don’t need to worry about anyone else’s schedule aside from your own. So pick something that you’re passionate about that will challenge you and start pursuing it.
For example, if you love animals, why not volunteer once a week at your local shelter? Or if there is a skill that you’ve been wanting to learn, go for it!
There is never any harm in trying something new, and sometimes it takes some trial and error and experimentation to find your passion. Trying new things will get you out of the house, allow you to be around new and positive people, and help you renew your confidence for learning new things.
7. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
While you don’t have anyone around disagreeing with your plans, take the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone by doing something new every week. This will also help you meet new people and make new connections. This may seem difficult at first if you’re shy, so here are some steps you can take to help you overcome that.
As you’re looking for new opportunities to approach, don’t do so with the mindset of trying to “find” someone. Instead, do things that will benefit your inner self. If you end up meeting someone in a romantic sense, it will be someone that you genuinely have something in common with.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things can lead to new friendships and amusing experiences. You just need to be willing to put yourself out there instead of waiting for things to come to you. Be proactive in looking for things to do around your city, and when you’re out, be proactive in approaching new people. Seeing other people smile is contagious, so if you start the smile train, others will reciprocate and you will both be in great moods.
A good way to get out of your comfort zone is to try a 30-day habit every month. Make sure to experiment by doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. You may even find some hobbies you end up adopting for a lifetime.
8. Use Your Alone Time Wisely
Many people might think that the answer to being happy is a simple one: just do things that make you happy.
However, due to psychological attachments, this is not true at all. You may enjoy chowing down on a quart of Rocky Road ice cream. You may enjoy watching an entire season of Dexter in a single sitting. But will these things bring you happiness in the long run? No. They will bring you feelings of guilt and remorse. Watching meaningless TV shows or eating your favorite comfort food might sound like a good idea at the time, but for the purpose of achieving happiness, they are often counterproductive.
This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself once in a while, but it’s best to use the time that you can in a constructive manner by getting to know yourself better, learning something, or challenging your mind in some way.
Read a great biography, watch an inspirational documentary, start a new business, or create a new website. Lose yourself in your art, music, woodworking, cooking or any other meaningful work.
Need some inspiration? Spend all day at a gallery or museum and let your mind experience different reactions and emotions to the exhibits or educational experiences. Be wise with your time and make sure that at the end of the day, you‘re satisfied with whatever you accomplished.
Because you’re alone at this point in your life, you have the opportunity to create something meaningful and spend as much time as you want doing the things that ignite your passions. When you lose yourself fully in your work, you will become proud of what you have created, which will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy.
Creating SMART goals will help keep you motivated. Start off small and focus on your most important tasks first. Once you get into a routine of positive habits, it will start coming naturally to you and you won’t have to think twice before making efforts toward creating an amazing future for yourself.
Why not take this time to focus on one or two aspects of your life that you have wanted to improve? No matter what category your goal falls into, don’t let your aspirations remain on the backburner.
9. Learn to Appreciate the Present
Your life experiences have shaped who you are today, but that doesn’t mean you should hold onto your past mistakes. The only part of your mistakes that should dictate your future are the lessons that you got out of them.
Rather than focusing on the past, appreciate the small wins that you’re making now and what they’re doing for your future. And make time in your busy schedule to stop and be mindful of the things around you, your achievements, and the positive aspects of your life. Don’t focus on the things that you don’t have, rather, garner an appreciation for the things in your life that you enjoy–no matter how small they are.
Which leads us to…
10. Practice Gratitude for What You Have
Researchers have found that taking the time to recognize the good things around you can increase your positive emotions, improve your sleep, help you show more kindness and compassion toward others, and even strengthen your immunity.
It’s so easy to take everyday things for granted. Your house. Your car. Your family. Your job. Your education. The fresh flowers growing along the side of the road. Whatever it is that you have in your life that brings you joy deserves a second thought. In fact, the simple act of keeping a gratitude journal can significantly increase your satisfaction with life.
But, here’s the thing. In theory, this seems like a pretty easy fast track to an improved life. Write down a few things every night that I’m thankful for and in turn I can avoid catching the common cold? Sure, I’ll do it–maybe for a week or two. But once I’ve written that I’m thankful for my family ten times, I’m probably going to put the book aside because I’m not feeling this flood of dopamine I was expecting, and I don’t think I’ve become much kinder toward others because I just gave unsolicited advice to a coworker that–when read between the lines–said, “Your work sucks.”
If you can relate to this, you’re doing gratitude wrong. To benefit from practicing gratitude, you need to learn to stop and notice new things that make you happy every day. The reason gratitude journaling works is because it slowly adjusts how you observe situations by altering your focus. If you write down that you’re grateful for your family every day, it won’t keep your brain attuned to identifying the fresh grateful moments that you undoubtedly experience on a regular basis.
Because of this, be as specific as possible when you’re practicing gratitude. “Today I was able to call my mom on the way to work just to chat” or “My husband left me a note this morning on the kitchen table, wishing me a good day.” And be sure to stretch yourself beyond the great stuff right in front of you. Becoming more aware of your surroundings will enhance your gratitude practice. Try to notice new things every day.
11. Build a Strong Network of Family and Friends
As you become more accustomed to being alone, you may realize that you’re putting less effort toward socializing. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, having a strong network of family and friends is still important.
Nurture the relationships that you already have by arranging visits with people you’re close to or call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to catch up. Here are some tips to strengthen relationships or form new ones:
12. Recognize You’re Fine Being Alone
You add value to this world, and you don’t need someone else’s approval to recognize that. When you’re alone, be sure to remember that you’re alone because that is what you’ve chosen. The world hasn’t left you behind.
It’s easy to find just anyone to spend your time with, but when you have high standards for those whom you allow into your life, you’re acknowledging that you’re better off alone than with someone who is just there out of convenience.
13. Volunteer Your Time
There are so many ways that you can help other people through volunteering your time, whether you’re doing it in person or remotely from your home. Helping other people is rewarding, and doing so allows you to feel connected to your community and to other people.
Being “alone” doesn’t mean you’re sequestering yourself from the rest of the world. It just means you have enough confidence to know that you don’t have to depend on other people to make you happy. And one good way to stay integrated with others is to surround yourself with the positive people you’ll find while giving your time to an objective that’s important to you.
Here are some great tips to help you find a suitable volunteering opportunity in your city that matches up with your skills and interests. It’s important to find something that is meaningful to you so you don’t end up giving only 50% of your effort toward whatever you’re doing. Make sure the organization’s needs are a good fit with what you have to offer, and once you find something, you will feel more fulfilled and satisfied with your life.
14. Make Plans for Your Future
Where do you want to be (both personally and professionally) in 10 years? What would be required to do to accomplish those goals? Writing your plans down will help guide your everyday decisions.
It’s pretty tough to feel good about yourself if you aren’t headed in some type of direction. Your plans don’t need to be extremely complex or overwhelming, they just need to exist. Once you have your plans, it’s easier to be proactive in taking action.
Don’t put your plans off. No matter what your goals are, go after them. Doing so will allow you to recognize that you’re living your life on your own terms, which will give you a sense of confidence that will attract new and interesting people into your life.
Having firm plans (that you can obviously modify as your life unfolds) can give you more hope and help you stay optimistic today about the opportunities for tomorrow.
15. Accept Yourself for Who You Are
Now that you know how to be happy alone, it’s time to accept yourself for who you are and be positive about whatever comes your way. Value your own opinion over anyone else’s because you know what’s best for yourself more than anyone else does. If you feel like you truly need advice, reach out for it. But first, try turning to yourself for the advice you’re looking for. The more you do this, the less you will rely on other people’s input. If you can trust yourself to handle your problems, you will become more confident and you will be able to pursue challenges that you once thought were beyond your abilities.
You’re normal, and your quirks are what make you unique from anyone else. Once you accept these thoughts, your world will become brighter and the opportunities will be endless.
Final Thoughts on Living a Full and Happy Life Alone
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” – Wayne W. Dyer (Check out more inspirational Wayne Dyer quotes!)
Embrace this time alone and make the most of it by getting to know yourself through self-reflection and developing the confidence that you deserve. It is absolutely possible to be happy and live a full life without having someone next to you at all times. Follow the tips laid out in this article to put yourself on a positive path toward living your best life.
When you’re alone, maintain a routine that you enjoy, make an effort to stay connected to loved ones, and find a hobby that feels fulfilling. Being happy alone is about making consistent efforts toward self-improvement and feeling empowered to be able to trust your own decisions.
Finally, if you want another positive