Can You Be Happy Without Social Interaction?

Teen Girls People Laughing Fun Friends
Image: Public Domain, Morguefile

We watched Happy last night, and while it was a good film, it left me feeling a bit depressed for a while. How could a movie called “Happy” leave someone depressed? Well, the movie suggests that one of the key ingredients to a happy life is social interaction. They did talk about meditation and having deeper pursuits than money and status, but it leaned heavily on the idea of connecting to other people.

For someone like me, that’s really depressing. The family I have nearby is not supportive and rather draining, and my extended family is distant in multiple definitions of the world. I have no real friends. Even the few online friendships I had were not as strong as I perceived them to be and are failing. I’ve spent most of my life with only whoever I was romantically involved with as my social interaction.

Now, none of this is for lack of trying. I’m constantly reaching out to people who don’t reach back. I try to be a good friend and good family. I’ve also grown tremendously and I’m a better person every year than I was the year before. For whatever reason though, no one seems to want to stay connected. I used to be depressed over it, then I came to terms with it. I found some contentment in my solitary life and stopped desperately craving the connection with others.

But is that happiness? Can a person ever be truly happy and complete if they have no friends or family? I haven’t seen any research on the subject, which is odd. Everything I find says you’re happier with close emotional connections, but no one talks about what your life will be like if that lifestyle isn’t an option for you. I think it’s something worth looking into.

I did find some message boards and people are divided. many loners consider themselves happy and fulfilled, even happier than those who have to deal with the drama and pain of social relationships. Others say that the loners are in denial or maybe only experiencing a sort of dull contentment, but not actual happiness. Personally, I can remember times when there wasn’t a person anywhere around and I was what I would call truly happy.

Some suggest that trying to find happiness without social interaction creates antisocial behavior. I don’t think that’s true. I probably care more about strangers and the world now than I ever have in my life. I certainly didn’t care about society or any of that when I was surrounded by people and more socially active. Maybe it all depends on the person, some can be happy alone and some can’t.

I think there must be a plan to the way things end up. Maybe for someone like me the lesson is to learn to be happy on my own, yet still maintain a connection to the greater whole of society. Maybe it’s my place to be a living example that you can have few or no people in your life and still be a happy, socially responsible person and be open to relationships when they come.

Plan or no, I do believe that isolated people need to do what they can to let go of self-pity over their situation and do all that they can to find happiness. If, as they say, true happiness comes from within and no one can complete you, then it would stand to reason that we each need to learn to be happy by ourselves, and consider relationships with others to be a precious, but not required, gift.

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