Alone and happy about it

f you constantly hear that you need to be in a relationship to be happy, surrounded by friends at all times, you’re far from alone. “Many people don’t realize,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of the upcoming book Joy From Fear, “that you can be very happy alone and also quite unhappy in the company of others.” The truth is, happiness always starts with you, and being happy alone is possible, even if it doesn’t seem that way now.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand that a relationship isn’t the be-all-end-all when it comes to happiness: being in one isn’t a cure for what ails you, and being out of one doesn’t mean you’ll be unhappy until the next one rolls around. Admittedly, this is a truth that can often be lost in the parade of happy-seeming couples both in the media, on your Instagram feed, and seated next to you at the café. Lest you despair, however, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective ways to make sure your days alone are some of the most fulfilling yet. So read on, and enjoy your “me time!”

Ditch the thought that “you’re waiting to live your life”

“Too many singles define their worth by their marital status, and feel that they have to wait to purchase a new car, a home, or travel until they get married,” says Miranda N. Dennis, LCSW at Oasis Clinical Counseling Services. Instead, she says, she “urges singles to live their life now,” rather than waiting for a partner to come along first.

Take 15 seconds to give yourself a simple compliment

she says, it’s much easier to feel good when we’re our own only pal. “After all,” she explains, “we often compliment our friends on their positive traits, so it makes perfect that [we] would like a dose of affirmation, too!”

3 Regularly host small dinner parties

Arrange once a week, once a month, quarterly, or whatever you prefer, to have a dinner party,” says author and social worker Frances Metzman. Each friend that’s invited can pitch in with cooking, setting up, or even cleaning the dishes. The important part is having a get-together to look forward to which can remind each member of your crew (including yourself) just how important you are. And for a twist, she says, have each friend “take a turn to invite an outside person or couple to join.”

Write down your favorite solo activities

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