Being alone and being lonely are two TOTALLY different things. Just because someone is alone, it doesn’t always mean they are lonely. When you are in a crowd of people are you always happy? So the number of people in a location or home doesn’t determine loneliness or happiness.
In the United States, there are about 29% (11.3 million) of older persons living alone (8.1 million women, 3.2 million men). Almost half of older women (47%) age 75+ live alone.
Did that surprise you?
Loneliness is more an attitude and feeling while being alone is a physical condition. Today I was alone. I knew Alyssa wouldn’t be home for dinner, so my first inclination was to just make a turkey sandwich. That seems to be my favorite “alone” meal. But as I went into the kitchen, I started thinking that I needed to change my attitude about eating alone.
When Alyssa moves and I am alone, does that mean I will eat a turkey sandwich every day for dinner? No way! So instead of making a turkey sandwich, I set out to cook a healthy and delicious meal for me, myself and I.
Getting Things Done Alone
Everything that couples and families do, people who live alone have to do too. So let’s break it down a bit for a few biggies.
- Eating - Obviously, everyone has to eat in order to stay alive. Man cannot live by bread alone and woman cannot live by a turkey sandwich alone. I love eating as much as I love cooking. Where am I going to find anyone as appreciative of every dish I cook than me? People who are alone need to treat themselves as they would their best guest. Take the time to savor the food. There aren’t many things as enjoyable as eating, so don’t let the opportunity for enjoyment pass you by just because you are alone.
- Sleeping - Once again, an activity that everyone has to do. Sleeping alone is much easier if you get smack dab in the middle of the bed. When you first start sleeping alone, you’ll fall asleep faster if you wear yourself completely to exhaustion before you go to bed. It may sound ridiculous, but it is true! I’m really lucky when it comes to sleeping. Not only do I fall asleep in less than ten seconds, I sleep like a rock. I also sleep soundly and I don’t move, so fixing the bed in the morning is quite easy. As good as all that sounds, I miss snuggling with someone that loves me. But, believe me, it is better sleeping alone than having someone who doesn’t love me snoring on the pillow next to mine.
- Activities Away From Home – Last weekend I went to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with Alyssa. We had a great time, but having someone with me isn’t always required. I remember the first movie I went to alone. I kept turning to my right to say something, but no one was there. That was just a habit! Eventually, I went to the movies alone enough that I stopped doing that talking-to-nobody thing. So shopping, movies, dining out, walking on the beach, watching the sunrise and a thousand other things can still be enjoyed alone.
People who live alone get lonely, but so do people who are married. The happiness a person feels is not solely based on companionship. Solitude has many advantages and being without a companion should not inhibit enjoying life. By having caring friends and extended family, constant loneliness doesn’t have to be a part of being alone.
Loneliness causes a person to feel insecure, anxious and depressed. However, if you always have to be doing something with lots of people, then you’re allowing those insecurities to rule your life. When that feeling of isolation and emptiness causes fear to rear it’s ugly head, a little self-talk will go a long way at controlling these emotions. The fear of being alone is often so strong that people stay in relationships that are unsuitable and unhealthy. Until a person can enjoy being alone with themselves, they will stay in unhappy relationships or roll in and out of them constantly. Don’t let your fear cause you to settle for unhappiness. Life is short and we are aging, so there’s no time to waste.
11 Things To Do Alone
Some things are easier or necessary to do alone because you can concentrate better. Being able to focus totally on the task at hand is just easier alone because there are no distractions. Here’s a list of 11 things that can be thoroughly enjoyed while doing them completely alone.
- Write a book/Keep a journal.
- Learn a new skill – carpentry, crocheting, cooking, playing the piano, etc.
- Genealogy. Trace your family tree.
- Read a book.
- Organize/Scrapbook your photos.
- Garden. Grow things inside and outside.
- Pamper yourself with a luxurious bath.
- Blog. You knew I had to add that one.
- Nap in the sunshine.
I have to add an unofficial number 12 to the list for me and it may not be applicable to you. When I’m alone, I can sing loud and dance like a superstar. My singing voice sounds equally as beautiful as Andrea Bocelli, Karen Carpenter, Barbra Streisand, Reba McEntire or Carrie Underwood. I also can put the moves on just as good and maybe better than Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta, Patrick Swayze, Shakira and Michael Jackson. Yeah, I think I’m stretching it a bit. The good thing is that when I’m alone, singing and dancing, I FEEL like a superstar singer and dancer. THAT feeling goes a long way in helping me to feel happy.
We are born alone.
We will die alone.
Most of us will at some point in our lives live alone.
I hope that I have at least helped you to see that being alone should not be feared and loneliness is not synonymous with being alone.