Happiness is a goal for many people. The desire to attain a pattern of life that brings joy in the living is often difficult to satisfy. Some people attain happiness during certain stages of life, while others rarely do so. Marriage is often put forward as a solution to creating happiness, but a significant percentage of the population lives alone. What are some ways in which a happy life can be achieved when a person is alone?
Finding happiness involves a variety of factors including general well-being, contentment with a person’s place in life, pleasurable activities, and satisfaction with what a person has and is achieving. These factors work together to produce an overall state of happiness. The struggle to achieve happiness is often complicated because a person’s circumstances are very often out of his or her control. Happy feelings are usually produced through interactions with others and through accomplishments in the workplace and interpersonal involvement. While being alone may seem to effectively remove many of the unknowns that inhibit happiness, it also cuts an individual off from many of those same factors that bring happiness in the first place. Living alone is a hurdle, but it doesn’t have to prevent a person from living a happy life.
There is a generally held belief that true happiness can only be found in a relationship with others. Despite this, the percentage of people who live alone continues to increase. Recent research shows that twenty-eight percent of Americans live alone and this percentage is even higher in other countries. The percentage of single households in the United States has risen from nine percent in 1950 to twenty-eight percent in 2013. This segment of the American population has risen from a fairly insignificant part of the overall population to one that nearly a third of the population will be a part of for at least some portion of time. Understanding how happiness can be achieved while living alone is increasingly important as this percentage of the population grows.
Accepting the state of being alone is an important step in achieving positive well-being. Those people who feel there is something wrong with them which has resulted in them being along will struggle with a positive sense of well-being and thus feelings of happiness will tend to elude them. A person who lives alone must have the ability to enjoy solitude and not rely upon others to provide those positive feelings that produce happiness. Well-being can either be generated from within or from without. Many people assume that a positive sense of well-being and thus happy feelings can only come about through interaction and encouragement from others. Having the ability to generate positive well-being from within frees a person from dependence on outside circumstances and people and allows an individual to be positively grounded in his or her own person regardless of the details of life that are encountered.
Contentment is central to the happiness of all people, but it is essential for those who live alone. The state of being alone is often seen by others as an indication that an individual has failed relationally or is not personally desirable. Being content indicates a state of mind that he or she is okay and doesn’t need to change in order to have a life of meaning and enrichment.
While striving for a better place in life is consistent with contentment, such striving out of a place of needing to be different in order to find happiness in life will often lead to frustration and despair. Lack of contentment is a key factor that inhibits a person from arriving at true happiness since whatever state of life a person achieves will never quite be enough. The constant search for something that will provide contentment will always fail and happiness will be continually out of reach. Being at peace with an individual’s state of enabling that person to seek after experiences that produce happiness without needing them in order to live a rich and fulfilled life.
Pleasure is the result of intensely happy feelings such as those connected with interpersonal relationships. Pleasure is often tied to those activities that are inherent in who a person is and which are closely connected to a person’s personality type. Activities that result in happiness often come about when an individual is able to make choices free of the demands of others. Pleasurable activities are deeply personal and require that a person have self-knowledge that is not dependent on the feelings or opinions of others. Most people grow up in some kind of family situation and thus often cues for what will bring pleasure are developed in group settings. The person living alone must find the personal confidence to act on those pleasure cues that most closely connect with the person that he or she is and not be overly reactive to the opinions of others.
Satisfaction comes from accomplishing a task or achieving a goal.
Self-directed goals are a result of desiring a particular goal and doing what is necessary to achieve it. Such satisfaction is directly connected to personal motivation and an outgrowth of understanding personal drives and desires. Happiness is directly connected to attaining a particular position in the workplace or in society and that will come about as an individual takes the necessary steps to make such a thing happen. A person will be satisfied if he or she is taking those steps needed to be successful and will be able to accept that outside factors cannot necessarily be controlled. The individual being alone is not dependent upon the encouragement or critique of others, but is able to assess his or her actions and to make the necessary modifications.
Happiness is possible for those who are alone. While it may look different from those who do not live alone, happiness is a reasonable goal that can be accomplished. By developing a strong sense of personal well-being, finding a place of contentment with one’s situation and lot in life, striving for pleasure through those activities that most closely connect with his or her natural style of living, and finding satisfaction in the struggle to accomplish personal goals a person living alone can find true happiness. While being alone is not necessarily a life-long state of living, it can be an opportunity for a person to attain happiness that will carry over in whatever circumstances an individual may be in throughout life.