Can You Be Happy and Alone?

"I just want to be happy."

"I don't want to be alone."

These statements represent two of the most common desires we have. They usually join forces to create a beefed-up desire that looks like this:

"I just want to be with somebody." 

That's because we've convinced ourselves that in order to be happy, we need to avoid being alone. Or we think that there's only a certain level of happiness we can achieve alone, like a measly 3.5 on a scale between 1 and Kristen-Bell-with-Dax-Shephard. 

So we try to find someone. Sometimes, we take whatever we can get: the first person who asks us out, the first person who says yes and it isn't a mean joke, the person who is most tolerable or most single in our circles, someone who looks great on the outside but on the inside is the human equivalent of a puddle (shallow) or celery (boring) or a gas station bathroom (truly awful). But hey, it's one step closer to being happier. At least we're not alone.

Can I let you in on a secret?

If you think you can't be happy unless you're not alone, I can almost guarantee that even when you're with somebody, you'll still be unhappy and still feel alone. It's what happens when we put the incredible burden of responsibility of our happiness onto another person, which even the best of us couldn't bear. Your best way forward is to learn how to be happy and alone. I don't mean a desolate, unabomber-in-the-woods kind of alone, if you were nervous about that. You need to learn how to be happy and single.

This isn't a new idea. You've heard this a hundred times from other articles or your family or your friends. You might even acknowledge it's true or probably true. It's just really don't want to be alone. Or you've approached relationships the same way for so long, you don't know another way. Tony Robbins says that "change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

Maybe, hopefully, you're reaching that tipping point of pain.

You might be ready if you keep choosing someone who doesn't want to be with you, someone who doesn't want to commit to you, someone who treats you less than you know you're worth (or less than what your friends and family keep trying to remind you you're worth), someone who makes you feel worse about yourself, someone who hurts you over and over and over. Or maybe you're the person who's doing the hurting. Maybe you're the one who keeps cycling through people because you can't commit. Maybe it's both of you.

Whether it's the people you're choosing, or it's you, or it's both, you know you're not getting the happiness you thought you'd have.

It might be time to try something new.

I'm hoping that you become aware of the pain of staying the same sooner rather than later. Trust me—the people who love you are hoping that, too. We want you to be happy. And just being with someone isn't going to get you there.

If you're ready, here's what learning to be happy when you're alone will do for you:

It will guarantee your happiness. Your happiness won't be a roll of the dice. Your happiness won't depend on someone else, on whether you find the right person. There's a way to be happy whether you find someone or not, and if you do that work on your own, happiness is yours. Guaranteed.

It will help you filter out the duds much quicker. Once you've figured out how to be happy alone, you'll be able to spot the douchelords from a mile away. You'll get one whiff of their CK Obsession, one look at their tribal tattoo, and you'll be able to say, "I'm good." When you've figured out how to be okay with yourself, the red flag will wave as soon as someone starts to treat you less than the way you deserve to be treated, and you'll be able to say, "I can do better." Your filtering system gets a major upgrade, and you waste less and less time on people who are wasting your time.

The best news, though, is this: if you figure out how to be happy alone, you give yourself the best chance to be happy with someone else. This is the real trick, the real secret to those happy couples you see, the ones who make you wish you had someone. The bottom line is this: healthy people attract healthy people, and healthy people stay with healthy people. If you figure out how to be healthy and happy on your own, you attract the right kind of person. Not only that, since you'll already be happy, since you'll have taken responsibility for your own happiness, you'll give your relationship the best chance to last and be happy in the long run. You won't stifle that person because you need them to make you happy. You won't freak out when they fail to make you happy. And because of that, it frees up the other person to want to make you happy, which is just icing on the cake.

If being with someone or trying to be with someone hasn't delivered happiness the way you thought it would, it might be time to give being alone a shot.

It's possible to be happy and alone. You don't have to wait for a somebodysomeday. You don't have to settle for "meh" and try to convince yourself every day that you're kind of happy or you're almost happy or you will be happy. You can just be happy—an actual, real, lasting kind of happy.


If you're thinking, "Hey, this sounds great, but I have no idea where to start being happy and alone," good news: my next article is going to tell you exactly how to do that. Keep your eyes peeled!