Will “the perfect partner” make you happy?

She was divorced and in her late fifties. Her kids were grown. Andrea had been hunting for the perfect mate for ten years, in vain. Leaving no stone unturned, she had become a member of umpteen clubs, joined cruises, hiker groups, photo pals. Name it, and she did it, all to find the elusive mate.

Nightly, after her workday, she spent hours prospecting on the Internet, where she had joined the top three matching sites. In Andrea’s mind, the only way to happiness was finding that ideal partner. After ten years on the hunt, 87 dates down, having spent a fortune on new clothes, hairdressers and manicures, her mood sank from a general level of disgruntlement and disappointment to downright depression. “What am I doing wrong?” she complained to her bevy of girlfriends.

Many singles, men and women, are locked into this desperate chase to find their soul mate, the "one and only" who would complete their life. Some who are divorced and middle-aged see it as their last chance for happiness. Others, who have at one time or another enjoyed a blissful relationship that has ended, desperately look for a repeat performance.

Yet what all these eager seekers seem to completely overlook is the beauty of life itself. While they are pursuing, calling, dating, e-mailing, joining, testing, checking out, networking and throwing themselves in this frenzy of connection activity, life simply passes them by.

Days become weeks and months, and to them, nothing has happened. The hunting game has replaced living and experiencing surprises that happen each and every day. While they’re doing and expecting, they completely forget about being and enjoying. So focused are they on reaching that elusive goal, that they can no longer see the beauty, the joys that each day may offer.

I am not saying that to share life with someone you love is not a most wonderful objective and may well be the key to great and ongoing happiness. But what if it doesn’t happen? Does that preclude living a full and exciting life and being happy? “Coupling” can be wonderful, but, as we all know, it’s not the end-all, and there is no guarantee of happiness.

A friend of mine, who mastered the art of living well, tells me that each morning she begins her day sitting at her breakfast table, a hot mug of coffee in her hands, watching the sky, the trees and the light flooding into her room. During those magical moments she becomes part of the creative force that created this planet of ours.

She watches the flowers blossom. In spring she smiles as the tender green leaves cover the branches and the rhythm of life starts all over. In fall she watches the colored leaves fall onto the grass, painting the meadow with passionate reds and orange and ochre. Each day she feels being part of the miracle of life and wonders what will happen to her today. And something unexpected and positive always happens, she claims, because she is open to experience it.

She lost her husband many years ago. “And yes,” she says, “I would like to meet another wonderful man. But my life is so rich, I have great friends to hang out with. I love music, we go to the theatre, movies, museums - there are so many ways to savor life. Even reading a book and not putting it down until the wee hours of the morning is a delicious way to treat myself.”

“So if I meet someone, wonderful. But if it doesn’t happen, I am having a simply wonderful life.”

Loving life as a single means learning to really like being by yourself because you value your own company. It’s a special discovery to focus on yourself, learn all the things you are and would like to be and do. Coming to terms with the thought that you, all by yourself, can make your life special because you’re worth it, is the most precious gift that you can give yourself this year. And while you go about doing it, you may just stumble into that wonderful partner, usually when you least expect it.

Jacqueline Brandwynne has worked in the health and beauty industry for more than 25 years and is creator of the Very Private line of products. Visit her at www.veryprivate.com.