Why Spending Alone Time Could Actually Make You Feel Worse

02Illustrated by Sandy Ley.
Gretchen Rubin, author of two New York Times bestsellers, is our go-to gal for the best get-it-together know-how. Every week, she'll be dishing up her wisdom straight from her popular blog, The Happiness Project, to get you on the road to a more productive, healthier you. Here's to a 2014 resolution that sticks!
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Happiness myth number nine is that 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 this is true even for introverts. 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 — and that was 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 break-up 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 so don’t want to deal with going to the the neighborhood BBQ, make the effort to push yourself out the door. Most likely, you’ll feel better if you do.
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Click here to order Happier at Home or to be notified about pre-ordering Gretchen's next book, Before and After, about habits, coming in 2015.
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