It’s a myth that there are more suicides during the winter holidays. This long held myth was explained that lonely people felt left out of celebrations and became more depressed. The fact is that it is one of the few times of the year that people have to reconnect with family and friends. There are many opportunities for you to get together with others and since others are in the holiday spirit, you may find them come looking for you.

Sometimes there is a stigma (real or imagined) with being alone. A lone person sitting at a restaurant table or a person buying only one ticket to a movie may get second glances. A single person seems to stick out in situations where we’re used to seeing couples or groups. But don’t feel embarrassed and ashamed.

Being alone is totally natural. Even when we are with a group of people or in a crowd, we are actually alone. We are alone with our own feelings, thoughts, and interpretations of the world around us. No one can or ever will know us like we know ourselves.

The ability to be alone with yourself is not something that everyone is capable of. To be able to sit still, listen to your own mind, and to be quiet with your thoughts is not something that everyone can do. Some people would rather lose themselves in the noise and bustle of a crowd than have to spend time with themselves alone.

And there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. You can be by yourself without feeling lonely. Maybe your friends are busy so you decided to go to a movie by yourself. Maybe you just don’t feel like talking to anyone at the moment. Maybe you just need to some room to think.

If you’re feeling lonely then you can reach out and make friends. An important Emotional Intelligence skill is the ability to form Interpersonal Relationships – to greet and meet new people, to develop intimacy, and to work through relationship problems.

I was somewhat introverted and shy during my high school years. The Christmas after high school I received as a present a book about overcoming shyness. One of the exercises they recommended was just saying “Hi” to strangers. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t say “Hi” back?

Sales clerks are good people to practice your interpersonal skills with; they are a captive audience, they are often bored, and it’s their jobs to make the customer (you) happy. Go into any store and say “Hi” to a sales clerk and make small talk about the weather, current events, or about what they’re selling (“What’s the most popular brand of refrigerator?”).

In my hippy days I hitchhiked around the US, Canada, and Mexico. It was this experience that helped me become a great conversationalist—not by talking everyone’s ear off, but by listening and asking probing questions. Turns out that people believe that the best conversationalists are those people who hear them and ask them questions about the things that they’re interested in.

Join clubs or take classes about things that interest you. Right there you have an instant bond with your fellow club members or classmates—you’re interested in the same thing. From this bond you can create intimacy by sharing appropriate personal information. Suggest getting together for a cup of coffee or lunch so that you can continue to share this intimacy. This is how all relationships develop, whether it be acquaintances, friends, or lovers. Take things slow, build trust, and enjoy the company.

Again, if you’re alone don’t sweat it. You have to learn to be happy by yourself before you can be happy with others since happiness is something that’s generated from the inside. Once you learn to be happy alone, others will be attracted to you!

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