Bad Habit #13 ~ Are you Lonely?
It isn’t easy to figure out why being lonely is directly tied to being unhappy. Everyone wants to belong…to be part of a social network. We are social creatures after all. To live well is to live interdependently…a mutual reliance on each other.
Researchers have found people are happier when they are not alone. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate our quiet times. Even if you’re an introvert, the effects of social engagement are the same. They also are finding that happy people are more pleasant, helpful, and sociable. So being around people makes us feel happier, and when we are happier we are more fun to be around, creating an “upward spiral” of happiness.
It seems to be a different type of process, too….that is making friends, when you’re in the 50 plus crowd. You don’t have the built in mechanism for meeting people. No High School filled with kids your own age, No College dorm with girls all going through the same thing, and often now no work place to go to filled with coworkers who you can make a connection with. Add to that, our mobile society and nobody really stays in one place anymore – where are all those friends we used to hang out with?
Although it takes a lot of work sometimes to force ourselves out of our comfort zone and join a club or take a class…or even go to church…It helps us understand who we are and to feel part of something larger than ourselves. People with strong social connections have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness.
Have you got all the friends you need, or are you longing for more connection with others?
Am I lonely? No. have I ever BEEN lonely? Yes – who hasn’t. But the questions is “Are You Lonely?” I’m a rather extroverted person. So in the times when I have been lonely, I’ve found people to talk to. An example: many moons ago I had moved with my then husband (he’s my EX now – let me make that clear….) to a new area. He promptly left the state for 3 months of training. Since I didn’t know anybody in town, and I wasn’t working yet, I joined a gym.
Once there I noticed who the regulars were. One woman in particular – we’ll call her Joan ; ) – was there everyday at the same time I was. So I said hello. She said hello politely but obviously didn’t want to be bothered. So I said hello the next day AND for days on end…until!…..she decided to talk to me. I broke her down and we’re still friends almost 30 years later.
Nope…I’m not lonely. How about you?
One of the things that happens when you move around a lot is, you never really put roots down in a community. In every city we’ve moved to the first people I seem to make friends with are the fellow dog walkers. Those are not the relationships you go to when you really want to talk things over. They’re not really the folks that know and appreciate the fact that you read a magazine backwards. I started a blog (a different one than middleSage) ~ after my mother died and I needed to connect with other women who had mothers like mine. It was incredible an incredible experience making virtual connections with people I didn’t know. And now, the relationships I have with some of our readers here at middleSage fill me up…in between visits from the kids!
Since I’m hoping we get to stay here in Atlanta, I am looking forward to connecting with the community and meeting friends. In the meantime, I have all the tools I need to reach out and touch.