— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.
Our world has always valued social connections for happiness and life-satisfaction. Even research suggests it might be hard to find joy without friends.
However, there is a twist here. We must make the distinction between solitude and loneliness.
- Solitude is like “food for the soul,” offering a peaceful sanctuary for self-introspection and self-discovery.
- While, loneliness is a sad emotional state marked by a sense of isolation, whether we are physically alone or not. It can sink us into overthinking, procrastination, and indecision.
- Friends have the biggest influence on our happiness. But it’s tough to make new friends past your college years. Work-life friends are never as close as you’d want them to be.
- You don’t have to put on a smile to show the world you’re happy. Neither should you depend on anyone else to make you happy.
- You can thrive in solitude using science-backed ways to be happy on your own, without friends. To start with, you need to learn how to enjoy being alone without feeling lonely.
10 Ways To Be Happy Without Friends
These doable strategies from positive psychology will help you find joy and fulfillment all by yourself:
1. Find solo happiness in your passions.
Doing things we are passionate about can sustainably improve your overall happiness and mood.
Research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggested that when we engage in our favorite hobbies or pursue personal interests, it can take us into the ‘flow’ state — a highly engaged mental state that allows us a deep sense of well-being.
Once you find the “Flow” state, you can reach the state of optimum happiness.
In a ‘flow’ state, you forget the outside world and lose sense of time because you feel satisfied with your present achievements and creativity.
2. Boost mood through exercise, no crowd needed.
Exercise can boost your mood in both the short-term and long-term, as science has shown.
Moreover, apart from brightening your mood, it can help lower feelings of depression.
The renowned positive psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar says, “In essence, not exercising is like taking a depressant.”
Plus, working out every day might let loose endorphins—our indigenous “feel-good” hormones. They cause a good feeling and a sense of peace, which is key to keeping a positive mindset.
So, include some physical activity in your day to lift your spirits and lessen feelings of sadness or worry.
3. Gratitude brings satisfaction on your own.
Science consistently shows that feeling thankful can boost joy both immediately and over time.
Studies in the upbeat field of positive psychology suggest simple activities that can lift your spirits, like:
- keeping a gratitude diary to write down the good things for which you are thankful in your life
- acknowledging what’s good in your life, or counting your blessings, is noticing and appreciating the positive aspects and experiences you encounter daily.
- writing a gratitude letter, saying thank you to someone for how they helped you and made you feel good. You may choose to give it to them or not, your happiness gets a boost both ways.
Gratitude practice also cuts down our stress and improves how well we sleep.
Being grateful for the food on your table can make you happier.
4. Right foods enhance solo well-being.
The Mediterranean Diet (MD), currently considered one of the most healthy dietary models in the world, can reduce depressive symptoms and improve mental health quality (PREDIMED study and SMILES trial).
Some foods included in the Mediterranean diet are broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, almonds, walnuts, cashews, yogurt, olive oil, olives, avocados, salmon, sardines, mackerel, peaches, pears, whole grain bread, and red wine.
5. Essential self-care ideas for solitude.
Self-care habits can plug in the gaps in your personal wellbeing routine and boost your overall happiness.
Some solo self-care activities can be:
- accepting things that are beyond control, assuring yourself you are capable of handling stress,
- regular exercise like walking or yoga, sleeping more, staying hydrated,
- reconnecting with old friends, getting away from toxic people,
- hobbies like photography and painting, DIY manicures,
- finding time for self-introspection,
- caring for pets and houseplants,
- mindfulness meditation,
- eating exotic foods.
6. Unplug for deeper personal connections.
We are doing too much screen time today. And we need to fix this.
Research highlights that reducing social media use can lower loneliness and depression (No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression).
So, instead of scrolling through feeds, focus on experiences that foster mindfulness and strengthen real-life connections.
Do these to manage your screen time:
- Force yourself to replace screen time with fulfilling activities and meaningful interactions.
- Set specific times to check social media feeds, avoiding constant updates.
- Prioritize self-care routines like showering, dressing, and healthy eating.
- Practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, or quiet reflection.
- Create personal screen time boundaries that fit your lifestyle.
- Connect with nature by walking or spending time outdoors.
- Indulge in creative pursuits like crafting or photography.
- Find screen-less ways to relax when bored or stressed.
- Make quality time for family and friends.
- Get adequate sleep and rest.
7. Discover self-joy through learning new skills.
Learning new skills or knowledge can be a source of personal satisfaction and happiness, especially when navigating life without close friends.
Identify your passions and seek learning opportunities that align with them. Join online communities or seek mentorship for a richer learning experience.
A few suggestions:
- Train yourself to use critical thinking to assess the information’s credibility.
- Adopt a growth mindset, open to learning from both triumphs and setbacks.
- Celebrate your achievements and consider sharing your newfound knowledge with others.
- Integrate learning into your daily routine by allocating specific times for self-directed study.
A continuous process of curiosity and discovery enhances your knowledge, helps you grow, and boosts your overall happiness and mental well-being.
8. Fulfill yourself through volunteering.
Getting involved in volunteer work is a great way to meet people and help out with causes you care about.
It’s not just about giving back; it actually makes you feel happier and more connected.
When you volunteer, you pick up new skills and see life from different perspectives.
It’s a rewarding experience that brings a sense of purpose and community, perfect for anyone looking to find joy and fulfillment on their own.
9. Learn to set goals that give your life purpose.
Having goals gives our lives a sense of meaning and purpose, which increases our happiness.
Working towards and achieving goals keeps the mind active and engaged, reducing feelings of loneliness and providing a sense of accomplishment.
Accomplishing a goal makes us feel more contented, proud, and worthwhile.
Set goals that align with your values and interests to reap the maximum happiness benefits. Learn the three best techniques to set goals.
10. Seek professional help if nothing seems to help.
If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness or depression, consider seeking help from a mental health professional to develop coping strategies and improve your overall well-being.
Remember, happiness is a personal journey, and what works for another person may not work for you. An extreme introvert may not find it soul-raising to volunteer for social causes.
Try different strategies and find the ones that resonate the most with you.
√ Also Read: 10 Greatest Happiness Hacks From Positive Psychology
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