Singles Awareness Day: The benefits of being single

(CNN)An increasing number of people around the world are opting to go solo. The number of American men and women who have never been married, are divorced or living alone has been on an upward trend for several years, according to the US Census Bureau.

Despite the fact marriages or relationships are less common these days, being single continues to have stigma and feelings of loneliness attached, no more so than on Valentine's Day. Feeling of loneliness among singles not yet having found "the one" still abound.
However, recent research shows that some people view singlehood as a happy destination rather than a stop on the journey to marriage.
    The research by Dr. Elyakim Kislev, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found that if you're single, you can redefine the concept for yourself: You don't have to be lonely, and you're not a failure. Being single can be an advantage instead of a source of agony, he believes.
      Kislev analyzed US and European databases and conducted interviews to examine trends in singlehood and what made some singles happy, finding that for some, happiness was a choice lifestyle or something they came to accept.
      "The fact is that many societies see tremendous growth in the single population and we need to change this image we have that being single means you are frustrated, less worthy or abandoned," said Kislev, author of the research presented in his book "Happy Singlehood: A Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living."
      Singlehood and living alone are also on the rise in many countries including Japan, Italy and Sweden, various studies have shown.
        Kislev believes there are ways to turn feelings of loneliness into the ability to feel empowerment and joy at any stage of your life.

        Identifying the root of loneliness

        If you're going to try to pull yourself out of feeling lonely, it's important to identify the cause of that loneliness, according to Kislev. There are differences between chronic loneliness, social isolation and feelings of loneliness.
        Chronic loneliness is defined as loneliness or social isolation that occurs over a long period of time and affects your mental and physical health, according to the American Psychological Association. It can "increase the risk of developing [health problems such as insomnia and heart disease], psychological distress and behavioral problems," said Dr. Indra Cidambi, medical director focused on mental health and addiction treatment at the Center for Network Therapy in New Jersey.
        Feelings of, or temporary, loneliness are based on subjective, self-perceived feelings of neglection or "a discrepancy between one's achieved and desired levels of social relations," according to experts.
        "Being alone does not make a person lonely, but the perception of being alone is what makes one lonely," Cidambi said.
        Previous research has shown that married people can be just as lonely and unhappy as their single counterparts.