The Happiness Project

Happiness Myth No. 9: Spending Some Time Alone Will Make You Feel Better

As I’ve studied happiness over the past few years, I’ve learned many things that surprised me. Each day for two weeks, I’m debunking one “happiness myth” that I believed before I started my happiness project. Yesterday I wrote about Happiness Myth No. 8: You’ll Be Happy As Soon As You …

Happiness Myth No. 9: Spending some time alone will make you feel better.

Wrong. Although it can be tempting to take a “personal day” when you’re feeling blue or to isolate yourself until you feel better, you’re better off doing just the opposite.

Connecting with other people, even if you don’t feel like it, is more likely to improve your mood—and that’s true even for introverts. Any kind of engagement gives you a lift.

In fact, researchers reported that out of 15 daily activities, such as exercising, commuting, or doing housework, everything is more fun with company. They found only one activity during which people were happier alone rather than with other people—praying. To my mind, that’s no exception; the point of praying is that you’re not talking to yourself.

I’ve certainly found this to be true in my own life. I spend most of my days by myself, reading and writing, and I’ve noticed that I always get a big burst of energy and cheer when I have a chance to be with other people. Even if I leave my desk feeling enraged, annoyed, or insecure, I feel better after talking to someone else—not talking about what’s bothering me but just talking about anything at all. In fact, I usually feel better if I’m distracted from my concerns rather than try to discuss them.

So if you just went through a painful breakup and so are tempted to not meet your friends after work but instead stay home on the sofa with the remote control or if you just lost your job and so don’t want to deal with going to the the neighborhood barbecue, make the effort to push yourself out the door. Most likely, you’ll feel better if you do.

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