Is it possible to be happy alone?

worrywort

Well-known member
#1
Do we really need others to be happy? Sometimes I come across people who live extremely isolated lives but they seem to be near blissful about it. Especially spiritual teachers and monks and people like that. They talk of just being content in your own skin. Simply being grateful for that, and for the small things, and treating everything else as a bonus. That this idea that we need others is a lie. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about this?

Sometimes it really rings true to me. I feel a great sense of freedom in the idea. When I get a taste of it and think of how much there is to be thankful for and to enjoy on my own, it's an amazing feeling to be free from this craving for love from others. To realise that I can be totally happy alone, and to just treat any connection I may have with others as a bonus. I think the idea is that if we can learn to love ourselves and affirm ourselves and be our own good company, then we won't need to seek it from others, which free's us to simply love others without needing anything in return.

It's a nice idea. The only problem is that it's quite difficult to realise in practice. I still wonder sometimes whether the road to greater isolation is a dangerous one to walk, or whether it may be the path to true enlightenment. Sometimes I feel like I tell myself that I'm fine alone, and sometimes I really believe it. But other times I can't help but yearn for a bit of support or love from another person.
 
#2
I think it depends on your psyche. Some are happier alone, whether thats because there is less fear, anxiety and stress or that they are just genuinely able to be happy alone I'm not sure.

Personally, I need my space, time alone. But there are times when I feel incredibly lonely too. I think to be permanently alone would be quite a downward spiral for me. I can't be around people all the time. It's a difficult balancing act.

Great post/thoughts by the way (y)
 

Phoenixx

Well-known member
#3
I think everyone's different. I know for me, I enjoy my quiet time and space alone, but at the same time I need to know I have people I can fall back on when I want/need to. People to talk to, hang out with, care for, and receive the same in return. While I feel the need to have other people in my life, I also don't just have people in my life just to have in order to fill some lonely void. I have a lot more friends and acquaintances now than I did growing up, but I have made sure those relationships are worth keeping.
 
#4
I think being with people that try to change your personality or make you feel guilty for who you are is much worse than being alone. So often we attract people with our personifies and then they want to change us. I know that I no longer recognize myself. Everything I loved got taken away from me, hikes in the woods, rides on my motorcycle, trips to the beach by myself. Made to feel selfish for my alone time. Being with people that don't appreciate you for who you are is much worse than being alone in my opinion.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#5
I think it depends on your psyche. Some are happier alone, whether thats because there is less fear, anxiety and stress or that they are just genuinely able to be happy alone I'm not sure.

Personally, I need my space, time alone. But there are times when I feel incredibly lonely too. I think to be permanently alone would be quite a downward spiral for me. I can't be around people all the time. It's a difficult balancing act.

Great post/thoughts by the way (y)
Thanks for the reply. Yea I've had the same thought before too, that it's probably a balancing act, and different people have different balances. Some people spend like 90% of their time around others and can only handle being alone for a small portion of time. I think I'm the opposite.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#6
I think everyone's different. I know for me, I enjoy my quiet time and space alone, but at the same time I need to know I have people I can fall back on when I want/need to. People to talk to, hang out with, care for, and receive the same in return. While I feel the need to have other people in my life, I also don't just have people in my life just to have in order to fill some lonely void. I have a lot more friends and acquaintances now than I did growing up, but I have made sure those relationships are worth keeping.
Thanks, yea I feel a similar desire, to have at least a small group of people who I can rely on. But as I'm aging I'm finding more and more all the people around me are growing up, moving away, having babies, etc so I'm trying to brace myself for a more isolated future. I suppose I could reach out and try to make new connections, but I think I know myself too well and I know I'll find that really hard, so I'm feeling drawn instead to the idea of finding happiness within myself, alone, so that I'm not so dependent on others. I think it is possible, but perhaps it takes a bit of practice and mental conditioning first.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#7
I think being with people that try to change your personality or make you feel guilty for who you are is much worse than being alone. So often we attract people with our personifies and then they want to change us. I know that I no longer recognize myself. Everything I loved got taken away from me, hikes in the woods, rides on my motorcycle, trips to the beach by myself. Made to feel selfish for my alone time. Being with people that don't appreciate you for who you are is much worse than being alone in my opinion.
Thanks, yea that's a really good point. I think being alone is definitely better than being around the wrong people. I'm sorry to hear you've had to deal with that lesson first hand. That sucks. I hope you're finding ways to make up for lost time and do things you love again.
 

theoutsider

Well-known member
#8
I have always been a natural loner. Being alone never bothered me at all and I lived for years by myself before marrying. I was fine with it.

A funny thing that happened to me some years back was some people decided they were going to ostracize me. I realized what they were doing and went about my life as normal, actually enjoying their absence. Eventually, they made their way back but being on my own was just fine by me.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#9
I have always been a natural loner. Being alone never bothered me at all and I lived for years by myself before marrying. I was fine with it.

A funny thing that happened to me some years back was some people decided they were going to ostracize me. I realized what they were doing and went about my life as normal, actually enjoying their absence. Eventually, they made their way back but being on my own was just fine by me.
Haha! Yea I've often thought if I were ever in prison I think I'd probably prefer solitary confinement to having to socialise with the other inmates!

But yea it's good to hear from people who are fine with solitude. I actually kinda think there isn't really a choice. Because the fundamental nature of being human is to be alone. We're born alone, we die alone, we're each one of a kind, and we're each trapped in our own bodies. Even during sex, each partner is fundamentally alone.

And also because love requires free will. So there will never be a guarantee that other's will love you. So when people say, no, it's not good to be alone, you should have friends, you should have love, all those beliefs require other people to fulfill these roles in our lives, and I just don't think we can ever be entitled to that. You can't force others to love you. So our aloneness is an inevitable part of life, so we may as well make our peace with it and find happiness within it.

Obviously, in reality, luckily, there's usually at least a few people out there who will at least love each of us a little, so that's nice I guess. But I think we should always view any love others give us as a gift, and make our peace first with being alone. At least that's how I'm currently thinking about it.
 
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theoutsider

Well-known member
#10
Haha! Yea I've often thought if I were ever in prison I think I'd probably prefer solitary confinement to having to socialise with the other inmates!

But yea it's good to hear from people who are fine with solitude. I actually kinda think there isn't really a choice. Because the fundamental nature of being human is to be alone. We're born alone, we die alone, we're each one of a kind, and we're each trapped in our own bodies. Even during sex, each partner is fundamentally alone.

And also because love requires free will. So there will never be a guarantee that other's will love you. So when people say, no, it's not good to be alone, you should have friends, you should have love, all those beliefs require other people to fulfill these roles in our lives, and I just don't think we can ever be entitled to that. You can't force others to love you. So our aloneness is an inevitable part of life, so we may as well make our peace with it and find happiness within it.

Obviously, in reality, luckily, there's usually at least a few people out there who will at least love each of us a little, so that's nice I guess. But I think we should always view any love others give us as a gift, and make our peace first with being alone. At least that's how I'm currently thinking about it.
Very well stated and an excellent/healthy way to look at it, IMO.
 

SoScared

Well-known member
#11
I was always quite happy and content to be alone until I went into therapy for addiction. One person in particular always drags me through my childhood. I'm not sure what this gains. These days i just reflect on what i have missed out on or let go of without realizing how important it was rather than just being content in the moment as i seem to recall i was much more frequently before.
 

Sacrament

Well-known member
#12
Human beings are social creatures. You can fool yourself into thinking you can be happy all by yourself, but in truth, you still want to interact with people, to share moments with them. While it is possible to be alone without feeling lonely, you'll always crave companionship.
 
#13
To the answer of whether or not it is possible to be happy alone - Yes, I think so. I think it may be easier to accomplish for some people than others, but in the very least it is a thing that is possible.

In my own experience I've found myself living a life of much greater isolation over the last 2-3 years than I previously had - quit a traditional job to work from home with no formal co-workers, live in a place where I frequently go days (or more) without seeing anyone else, and have friends/family/significant other who I interact minimally with throughout the days. And when I was first put into this situation, I embraced it. It was sort of what I always wanted - I had romanticized the idea of being alone all the time. I could read and write and create and explore and reflect and discover all without the weight of the social stresses I had become accustomed to. I had an opportunity to be at peace and happy with myself.

In some respects, I do find those things to be true. I cherish time by myself greatly and am grateful for it. But for all the good that it brings, nothing substitutes the feeling of having a bond - a real bond - with others. I notice it every time I go out and see someone I once knew and a relic of a feeling bubbles up. You can live without it and can be happy, but it sort of like living without a favorite song or without sunsets or your favorite hobby or anything that brings you a unique pleasure.

I said earlier that I romanticize aloneness, which I think I do in part to try to validate or cover up what the real driving force is, which is that it's hard to be around people for me. Or I should say, to bond with people, because being with people and not bonding isn't much different than being alone. And I can tell myself a million times over that I can be happy by myself, isolated in this world, but it's never in good faith. Yes, I could maybe be happy alone, but I don't think I could be happiest. That, at least for me, requires some degree of connecting with others.

I do think there are some nuances to the conversation. Like I think I'd rather be physically alone than in the company of others but without the connection - the whole alone in the crowd thing. But at the root of it, I think an incredibly important part of life is connecting with something. I think there are non-human things you can do this with, whether it be nature or animals or ideas or art or whatever. But I think even then, even without other humans, you're still not really alone. And while I won't commit to saying it's not possible, I think it's difficult to find happiness without connecting to something in this world.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#14
I was always quite happy and content to be alone until I went into therapy for addiction. One person in particular always drags me through my childhood. I'm not sure what this gains. These days i just reflect on what i have missed out on or let go of without realizing how important it was rather than just being content in the moment as i seem to recall i was much more frequently before.
Thanks, yea I think I feel similarly sometimes. It's like the only times I feel lonely are when something or someone points out my solitude to me and suddenly I feel a sense of lack. But usually I don't even think about it. I just feel happy contenting myself with my own work and hobbies etc. It makes me think of that phrase, "the cure for loneliness is not people, it's purpose."
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#15
Human beings are social creatures. You can fool yourself into thinking you can be happy all by yourself, but in truth, you still want to interact with people, to share moments with them. While it is possible to be alone without feeling lonely, you'll always crave companionship.
Thanks, yea that's true, I do agree that humans are social creatures, and I definitely wouldn't suggest anyone decide overnight to head off to the mountains to be a hermit for the rest of the lives. I don't plan to do this either.

But I think it's more a kind of attitude I'm searching for. It's like, whenever we have a need, there are two things we can do; we can either try to satisfy the need, or we can try to free ourselves from the need altogether. The former keeps us in a state of dependence on the need, whereas the latter free's us from that dependence, which turns the need into something more like a bonus or a gift. Now maybe I'll never fully free myself from the need of others altogother, but I'd like to move in that direction. There's something feels right to me about loving others without clinging or needing any love in return and treating any love I receive as a gift rather than a need. So that's kinda where I'm heading.
 

worrywort

Well-known member
#16
To the answer of whether or not it is possible to be happy alone - Yes, I think so. I think it may be easier to accomplish for some people than others, but in the very least it is a thing that is possible.

In my own experience I've found myself living a life of much greater isolation over the last 2-3 years than I previously had - quit a traditional job to work from home with no formal co-workers, live in a place where I frequently go days (or more) without seeing anyone else, and have friends/family/significant other who I interact minimally with throughout the days. And when I was first put into this situation, I embraced it. It was sort of what I always wanted - I had romanticized the idea of being alone all the time. I could read and write and create and explore and reflect and discover all without the weight of the social stresses I had become accustomed to. I had an opportunity to be at peace and happy with myself.

In some respects, I do find those things to be true. I cherish time by myself greatly and am grateful for it. But for all the good that it brings, nothing substitutes the feeling of having a bond - a real bond - with others. I notice it every time I go out and see someone I once knew and a relic of a feeling bubbles up. You can live without it and can be happy, but it sort of like living without a favorite song or without sunsets or your favorite hobby or anything that brings you a unique pleasure.

I said earlier that I romanticize aloneness, which I think I do in part to try to validate or cover up what the real driving force is, which is that it's hard to be around people for me. Or I should say, to bond with people, because being with people and not bonding isn't much different than being alone. And I can tell myself a million times over that I can be happy by myself, isolated in this world, but it's never in good faith. Yes, I could maybe be happy alone, but I don't think I could be happiest. That, at least for me, requires some degree of connecting with others.

I do think there are some nuances to the conversation. Like I think I'd rather be physically alone than in the company of others but without the connection - the whole alone in the crowd thing. But at the root of it, I think an incredibly important part of life is connecting with something. I think there are non-human things you can do this with, whether it be nature or animals or ideas or art or whatever. But I think even then, even without other humans, you're still not really alone. And while I won't commit to saying it's not possible, I think it's difficult to find happiness without connecting to something in this world.
Thanks for your honest answer. Yea I think similarly to you on many points. Your last paragraph was interesting. Yea I guess when I say "alone", what I really mean is being seperated from any kind of deep or meaningful bond with another person. Cause I think you're right; there are other ways to connect, through art and wisdom and nature. We can still love and be loved but in more distant ways.

I guess sometimes I think everyone has a line where they say, "this is how much love I need to get. Any less and I'm in lack. Any more and I'm in bonus." But I just look at that and think, well, why not draw your line as low as possible? Then everything becomes a bonus!

But I suppose it's hard to do, cause I know what you mean about how it feels nice to have a real bond with someone, and I think I probably romanticize aloneness too to cover up a host of deficiencies in myself, so yea, that was a very honest insight. Thanks.
 
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