How I went from Feeling Lonely to Being Happy Alone

I think everyone knows the feeling of not wanting to be alone – Of course, as humans have a natural social instinct. But there is a fine line between wanting some company compared to needing people around you to be happy. I have compiled a quick list of things that helped me to love being alone (maybe a little bit too much, I am already an introvert by nature), and how I learnt to completely enjoy my own company

  • Remind yourself – You do not need other people around you to be happy. In fact, you should live by the exact opposite; You are the only constant and continuous support in your life, so become the source of your own happiness. Being alone does not in any way influence how you should feel about yourself, as you can become completely in control to regulate your self-esteem!
This cute picture sums it up for me – You have to look after yourself and learn to support yourself, which will make being alone a much happier place
Picture source: https://medium.com/@iamnancyruffin/why-letting-go-of-toxic-relationships-is-a-form-of-self-care-c9818445d410
  • Do activities by yourself you enjoy – Some of my hobbies are solitary activities already, such as reading, sewing, and knitting. Of course it is nice at times to have company, but it’s not essential for these activities. So use such hobbies as something to look forward to when you get to be alone – For one, I love having the house to myself as it means I can read in silence, or I can practice my singing and piano without bothering anyone. On top of that, if you want to go shopping, see a movie, or eat out but have nobody to join, still go for it! I have never seen anyone judge someone who is alone in a cinema or restaurant, and if someone does judge you, it reflects badly on them, not on you 🙂
Productive activities by yourself that you look forward to make your time alone something you can look forward to! Enjoy it while it lasts 🙂
Picture source: https://www.pinchofattitude.com/i-love-being-alone-10-guilty-pleasures/
  • Entertaining yourself is important – The ability to amuse yourself and laugh while you’re alone is so important! Just because you are alone, it does not mean you can’t have fun – Yes, it might be a bit odd if someone sees you laugh all to yourself, but it makes you happy and also builds your charisma for when you are around others! It also makes you radiate happiness and positivity 🙂
Apparently women laughing alone with salad is a thing on the internet, but hey she seems to be having a great time, and so can you!
Picture source: https://www.thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-salad/
  • Get off social media – Seeing pictures of other people enjoying their time together is neither fun nor productive. Do something to keep your mind focussed on yourself and your joy. Scrolling through other people’s lives makes you build a negative connection to social media sites, and it probably is a very invaluable part of your day.
Spending time on social media leads you to compare and degrade yourself. This can make your time alone feel painful and you get into a ‘lonely and not good enough’ mindset, so go offline to feel better.
Picture source: https://thebannercsi.com/2019/02/04/the-craze-is-on-surviving-without-social-media-for-a-week/

So, remember – The opposite of loneliness is not surrounding yourself with people. It’s all about the mindset, and the only way to stop feeling lonely is by looking at your time alone in a different, more positive, light! Be productive, do things you enjoy, and remember that being okay with being alone is so important to feeling positive in life. If you do want company, reach out to your friends and family, I promise they won’t bite or judge you 🙂

How Self-Restraint is Linked to Happiness

This past week I have been focussing on cutting out gluttonous behaviour, while applying more restraint on myself. There’s a few things I have learnt from doing this, as well as from the reading I have done, so I want to emphasise how important it is to adopt temperance for a healthier and happier mind-set.

Studies have shown that self-discipline is linked to many mental benefits, including happiness (See https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/how-to-improve-self-control?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1 for more information)
Picture source: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/tip-how-to-increase-self-control

At first I thought gluttony was just about taking in excessive amounts of food and drink that you want rather than need. So I started at that, and have stopped eating out of boredom, but I also realised that taking this rule too seriously takes away the occasional delicious treat (as you really don’t need it, it just tastes nice). When researching this eating aspect more, I came across resources that proposed gluttony is also about becoming slaves to food as a substance – If we don’t have it at the right time we might get ‘hangry’, you might not know why you are having something as you ‘need it right now’, and you might be led to eating food of poor quality in high quantity.

Over time this behaviour pattern with any substance has aversive effects. Why? Dopamine is the answer!

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that motivates to engage in pleasurable activities, such as eating, smoking, gambling, videogames, and so on. This can over time lead to addiction due to reducing the sensitivity of dopamine receptors, increasing the threshold of the pleasure experience and making us engage in a given activity more. It also leads to the reduced ability of enjoying (or getting a dopamine response from) less ‘addictive’ things in life, such as reading, hiking, crafting, exercise. We become adapted to the high and quick dopamine release when engaging in the prior mentioned activities, while behaviours that might benefit our mental and physical state become less and less desirable to engage in.

This is where self-restraint plays a powerful tool – The ability to say no to inviting pleasurable experiences does not only heighten your enjoyment when you do allow yourself to engage in those, but also makes simple things in life better. You become more grateful and accepting of the non-addictive parts of life, while giving into gluttonous behaviour reduces the enjoyment we can experience and enslaves you to the quick and high dopamine releasing activities.

This makes self-restraint a really important habit to adopt! It takes time to build habits, so don’t rush this. I recommend writing down each activity you did during the day and rating from 1-10 how much you actually enjoyed it through reflection, and how much it meant to you and your growth as a person (see my example below). Once you learn what does not matter to you and your life, cut down on those things and learn to say no, despite their temptation. Restraining yourself will be hard at first, but it will form your life around activities you find actually meaningful, rather than wasting your time.

During the day, it helps to keep note of what you have been up to and track its enjoyment and meaning, which leads you initiate positive changes.

So, remember: Practice and effort lead you to adopt habits that will easily let you say no through trained self-discipline, and ultimately you will enjoy life a lot more 🙂 During this next week, I will be focussing on being more charitable and less greedy, which is one I am excited for, as I have always favoured giving over receiving! Let’s see what that says about me…

Resources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pMbi7wmVmg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluttony

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/americas-most-tolerated-sin

The Deadly Sins & Heavenly Virtues – Their importance for Mental Health

I have never been very religious in my life, and have identified as an atheist these past few years. However, the more I look into religion, the more appealing I find the idea of having some rules to live by. I am currently reading a book about Buddhism, which is teaching me a lot about discipline and productivity. However, for this post little series, I will be focussing on Christianity, and in particular the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues and their link to the human mind.

Today’s society encourages the partaking of all deadly sins in a modern way.
Image Source: https://hackernoon.com/future-of-all-business-exploit-the-7-deadly-sins-80c2b7b7b6a0

In short, the seven deadly sins are habits one should avoid due to their classified immoral nature, and this includes:

  1. Lust – Excessive sexual appetite
  2. Gluttony – Over-indulgence
  3. Greed – Avarice
  4. Sloth – Laziness
  5. Wrath – Extreme anger
  6. Envy – Desire to have something that belongs to another person
  7. Pride – Hubris & Vanity

Now, I don’t personally condemn these habits as immoral due to my so-far limited religious beliefs, but when looking at the list I think each of these is bad for your mental state. These traits encourage indulgence, disinhibition, and egotism, which is not helpful for anyone’s mindset. So, it might be helpful to keep these in mind when assessing your thinking for certain negative patterns!

To counter-balance these ‘sins’, a set of values that would enhance the human soul, named the heavenly virtues were proposed. In my research, I came across different sets of virtues, so I stuck with those that were most clear to understand for me.

  1. Chastity – Purity
  2. Temperance – Self-restraint
  3. Charity – Giving
  4. Diligence – Conscientiousness
  5. Forgiveness – Composure
  6. Kindness – Admiration
  7. Humility – Humbleness

Aristotle even talked about having 12 virtues, which you can see here:

https://aesthetichealingmindset.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/4706/

Adopting the values of the heavenly virtues can teach you a helpful mindset that will improve your mental well-being
Image Source (and some good reading!): https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/6802/seven-heavenly-virtues/

I always find my mental health improves when I live by certain rules, which are based on creating a more disciplined routine. Within that, positivity and being able to let go, rather than dwell, always help me to move forward from a bad patch. When looking at the sins and the virtues, I think it is safe to say that living life according to those would create more discipline, and a life fuelled by less hate and more love. You would be encouraged to adopt values that help you give, forgive, and be kind, while you neglect habits that bring you down, or make you indulge in your own achievements and materialism.

There is a lot within each sin and virtue, so this is more of an introductory post to a 6-week (not 7, because I will be excluding Lust) blog post series, where each week I will challenge myself to focus on one particular sin and the counter-balancing virtue, and live more according to those. This is part of my own self-growth and increasing interest in religion, but some of these habits and values might be particularly interesting for my own (and your!) mental health!

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_virtues

http://freedomoffaith.tripod.com/id11.html

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-24/edition-2/deadly-sins

Mental Health is More than just Mental Illness

Our mindset is complicated and takes time to figure out, but with consistent effort you can get there 🙂
Image Source: https://online.alvernia.edu/program-resources/behavioral-health-vs-mental-health/

Being healthy, physically and mentally, is often defined by the absence of any sort of illness. However, to me, being mentally healthy means so much more; When I reached the point of mostly having overcome my phobia, I was excited about being in a ‘healthy’ state of mind again (i.e. my life did not revolve itself around vomit). But I came to the realisation that there was so much more to my mindset than my previous mental illness. I did not suffer from depression nor anxiety, but there were parts of my thinking that were still unhelpful, and I am still continuously working on these belief systems.

But what do I mean by unhelpful thoughts that were not really part of a mental illness? For me, I found myself to be very reliant on other people – I constantly wondered what others thought of me, if they thought I looked good, and even let their personal outlook on life get to me. Everything in my life revolved around others, by either helping them, giving parts of my life up for them, or letting their opinions take over mine. Whenever I got home alone, I felt lost, confused and frustrated. This is not mentally healthy. I realised I could not let myself be so dependent on everyone but me – At the end of the day, I am the only person that is a constant throughout my life, so I need to learn how to be there for myself, be able to happily keep myself company, and create the person I aspire to be!

Mental illness is a huge issue that many people face in life, but is there more ways our thinking can be affected negatively?
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder

If you don’t suffer from a diagnosed mental illness, it is important to still check how mentally healthy you are. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself questions concerning how you go through life: Are you happy being alone or do you immediately feel lonely or abandoned? What do you think when you look in the mirror? Is going to the cinema alone an option for you, or are you scared of external judgement? Are you able to find something positive in every situation? Can you laugh at yourself or are you easily embarrassed?

Mental health is something we need to talk about more, and mental illness is certainly a huge part of that. But there is more to being healthy, and small things, such as complaining or putting on make-up every time you step outside the door, might be signs you are not living with a healthy mentality. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, or don’t suspect you suffer from a mental illness, being mentally healthy is still something you should check for.

Being able to see something positive in every situation is crucial for being mentally healthy.
Image Source: http://omswami.com/2016/12/the-secret-of-being-positive.html

You are the only consistent support throughout your life, so make sure to be create the support system you need and want! Nobody else but you will be there to look out for you, sense your emotions, and realise whether you are doing okay. For me, this is a huge part of mental health that I don’t see talked about very much, so I would love to hear your opinions on this :)!