There are many theories about happiness and its relationship to human connection. The ultimate question, can a lonely person be truly happy has been and will continue to be studied. Of course there is no one right answer, as each human being is different in mental make-up and each of us has different components that make us happy.
The relationship between loneliness and happiness
When looking at this relationship, it would appear to be all about balance. A recent study suggests that too much emphasis on seeking happiness can lead one to neglect friends and family and contribute to a feeling of loneliness. On the other hand, people who feel dire loneliness report lower scores for overall happiness. At the end of the day it would appear that loneliness in and of itself is not contrary to being happy. It is possible to be content with loneliness and still experience happiness.
Embrace and enjoy loneliness
It is important to reemphasize that being alone does not mean one has to feel lonely. While this may seem like an argument of semantics, it is deeper than that. Loneliness in the negative can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. There are few positive outcomes for these conditions and most would universally recognize that this is not a good state to be in for too long. That being said, loneliness has also contributed greatly to people’s happiness by spurring one to action. Einstein passed many lonely hours as a clerk in a patent office, but this alone time was ultimately spent productively to develop his revolutionary theories.
Loneliness happiness: A means to an end
How can one be happier through loneliness? Think about the previous example of Einstein. He used his alone time to ultimate benefit, literally changing the world with this ideas and theories. While this alone didn’t necessarily make him “happy” it did allow him to feel fulfilled; the negative of which can be a barrier to happiness. What can you do with your alone time? The answer is: anything you want. Think of alone time as an opportunity for self-improvement, both mental and physical. This doesn’t mean you have to learn a new skill or start a radical new exercise program. Self-improvement in its broadest sense simply means improving one’s condition through one’s own efforts. If you’re feeling lonely, improving your “condition” can be as simple as reading a book, writing a letter or taking a walk. Of course there is nothing wrong with taking on greater self-improvement challenges either.
No, this is not an oxymoron. Loneliness can be lovely if it turned into a positive. While there may not be a huge calling for “I Love Loneliness” t-shirts, turning this perceived negative into a source of strength and new fulfillment is certainly a worthwhile goal. So what are the steps to embracing loneliness? Here they are:
Accept: Come to terms with loneliness and don’t regard it as a negative situation if it results in a positive outcome.
Pledge: Commit to a course of positive action and improvement.
Plan: Thoughtfully consider different options and be specific with actions and milestones.
Act: Put your planning into action, recognizing that things can be change if needed.
Sustain: Keep up the effort.
It really is that simple. Remember, loneliness is only a negative if we allow it to bring down our mental and physical well-being. Used as a spark for creativity and improvement it can bring one into a new phase of happiness in life.