How to be happy alone

Heather Wright

Marketers promote the holiday season as the happiest time of the year. From “Friendsgivings’’ to Christmas parties, these days should be filled with so much fun — and so many people! But what about when they’re not? What are you supposed to do when the holidays are miserable because they make you feel most alone? 

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve just experienced a bad breakup, if you’re grieving the death of a loved one, or if your friends took job opportunities in different cities. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate. ‘Tis the season when everyone else seems to be surrounded by people … but you may feel left out, rejected, or forgotten.

It’s even hard to find comfort in God’s promises that we are never truly alone (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8:38-39). While these promises are true, they don’t change how we feel. Even if you can’t change your circumstance, here are three practical steps toward joy when you feel alone:

1. Separate who you are from what you’re feeling.

The enemy wants nothing more than for you and me to believe lies about who we are. This is what is true: “I feel lonely.” But what isn’t true is the lie that I am insignificant, abandoned, or unworthy of being loved. So, when our feelings don’t match what God tells us is true about who we are, we have to separate those feelings rather than let them get all tangled up.

2. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t.

We often look for evidence to validate our feelings. So, when I’m lonely, I let everything convince me I’m completely alone. If I pass a friend driving down the road who doesn’t wave, or if someone doesn’t text me back quickly enough, I assume they don’t care about me anymore. Instead of compiling evidence to validate how you feel, focus your attention on what (and who) you do have.

3. Plan ahead for hard moments.

No matter how many people surround you, the holidays can be really hard because you can easily notice the absence of the people who aren’t (or can’t be) there. Plan ahead for those moments and put some things in place to help yourself find or create joy.

Take a look at your calendar and think about what moments feel hard. Maybe you’ve lost someone whom you shared significant moments with during the holiday season. How can you honor those moments this year? How can you highlight what was great about those moments?

Maybe Christmas morning is hard because it highlights what you don’t have more than other times of the year. What can you do on Christmas morning that brings you joy? Do you love a certain movie? Do you have a favorite breakfast you can enjoy? 

Plan ahead and intentionally put some pieces of joy in place. This won’t necessarily take the feelings away (or solve all of your problems), but this will offer a glimmer of joy in the middle of something hard. 

Remember who you are.

Ultimately, remember who you are. Even if the people you wish were close to you can’t (or won’t) come close to you, God is near and wants to speak to you about who you are whenever you forget (Philippians 4:4-7). He belongs to you just as much as you belong to Him.

Sometimes, it can be hard to separate who we are from what we’re feeling. Use this printable PDF as a guide to help you reflect when you’re alone with God.

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