Here is a simple solution to start getting you connected!
I AM LONELY and I have been for years. I have had, as many people have, a challenging life so I accepted loneliness as just another challenge. After all, I have been a victim of domestic violence, a single parent to four children, a full-time caregiver to my husband who had ALS, a divorcee, a widow and more. So, when I began to experience loneliness I started to look through my tool box of coping mechanisms. I discovered that none of them worked.
I thought it was my particular stage in life. I am single, my children are grown and I don’t work in an office. I have since discovered that my loneliness it is not a result of my stage in life and that I am not alone. In fact, there is an epidemic of loneliness in this country according to some experts. Young persons may be the loneliest group.
Loneliness touches all of us at some point in our lives. So, what is the big deal? It is just part of the human condition, right? That is true but when loneliness becomes pervasive and chronic, as it currently is, it becomes a public health crisis. At least according to our former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, it is.
LONELINESS HURTS! Current research suggests that what we feel is manifested in our bodies. We can no longer relegate emotions to “unimportant” concerns. The feeling of loneliness can be akin to hunger pains. We definitely feel it! Negative emotions adversely impact our health and well-being.
WHY DOES LONELINESS HURT? One of our deepest human needs is to connect with others. That is one reason it feels good to connect with others. That good feeling can be, among other things, a result of the release of certain neurochemicals in our bodies such as oxytocin.
WHY ARE WE EXPERIENCING AN EDPIDEMIC OF LONELINESS? Our culture places more emphasis and value on independence, self-reliance, and busyness more than community, collaboration and connection. Social media plays a role in our isolation as well. We feel weak if we admit we need others. We don’t prioritize our relationships with family, friends or co-workers. We have become uncivil to those we interact with casually. All of this comes at a cost to our own physical and psychological health and the health of our culture and institutions.
WHAT CAN WE DO IT WE ARE LONELY? When we experience loneliness, we can actually drive others away. We can’t force people to connect with us. We can start with our intentions. Let’s make connecting with others a priority. Even casual interactions can nurture us. Make it a point each day to be kind to everyone you interact with. For example, ask the checker at the grocery store, or an unfamiliar co-worker “How are you” and actually listen to the answer. Being kind and compassionate helps us as well as the people we interact with. Compassion is contagious so our simple acts of kindness and compassion are like a pebble in a pond. It will spread to many others. It will help you start connecting with people other than casual acquaintances as well.
SUCH SIMPLE ACTS can improve our own physical and mental health and well-being and help make the world in which we live a better place for all of us. I know it has helped alleviate loneliness in my life. I hope you will give it a try!
(P.S. Loneliness is bad for business and your career. More on that subject to follow.)