“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness”
In a world where we are expected to constantly remain connected, we explored the benefits of spending time alone - not time alone where we're scrolling through our social media feed - time when we're really alone, physically and mentally. Here, we speak to Mental Health UAE's co-founder Ali Khawaja, who says that being alone increases our sense of belonging in the world.
Why is it important to be comfortable by yourself?
“To thyself is the beginning of wisdom” - Socrates. It is fundamentally important to spend time alone in self-reflection so you can better understand who you are as a person. This further enhances ones’ understanding of their place in the world. Studies have shown that people who spend time alone in thought and meditation build better mental strength. Alone time has been shown to increase creativity, productivity, empathy and mental fortitude.
Why do you think it's important to not rely on others for happiness?
As humans, we are not designed to be alone but to function as part of a society. Societal expectations of what happiness is has an impact on how we measure our own happiness. In part, this is true. However, as individuals, we must learn to balance expectations and reality. The difference of these two is happiness.
When we talk about expectations, we have to look at it from the perspective of external expectations and internal expectations (society and self). Therefore, it is important to rely more on yourself than on others for this measure. Social channels create false expectations of happiness which can cause inaccurate representations that we try to live up to. When this fails, we feel unhappy. Thus, reliance on self for your real measure of happiness has become more important now than ever.
Ali Khawaja, co-founder of Mental Health UAE. Courtesy of Mental Health UAE
Amidst the current pandemic, those in isolation may be feeling anxious and stressed. How can we combat this?
a. It is very difficult to self-isolate; we need human contact to thrive. They key is to structure yourself.
b. Organise your time, so you know what is being done and when. Just like when you were in kindergarten, you had a schedule to follow, do the same.
c. Organise your space, create zones in your home. Work zone, eating zone and relaxing zone. Your mind will appreciate the structure and will help you be more productive and energetic.
d. Create a 'call a friend' calendar for yourself. Setup and schedule zoom calls and such with friends and try to have a topic and not just random chat.
e. Limit your time on social channels, too much not verified information will only increase anxiety.
What are some important messages we should say to ourselves each morning?
-It is okay to not be okay.
-It is okay to ask for help.
-Self-love is not selfish.
-I am brave.
-I am strong.
-I am smart.
-I am loved.
-I am worthy.
-I am enough.
Anything else we should remember?
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness” – Robert Morley.