According to an article in “The Week,” an astonishing 50% of all Americans say they are lonely; loneliness defined as not having meaningful, authentic relationships, feeling isolated and left out, having few social contacts and not being understood.” Britons are right behind at 41% with many reporting that their pet or the TV are their main source of companionship.
And while Baby Boomers have driven the numbers upward (One in six now live alone) Millennials aged 23-37 scored highest in loneliness. Marrying later, working at computers, living away from family, spending too much time comparing themselves to others online (or on TV) are all factoring into this over-all sense of isolation.
Some are even postulating that being lonely contributes to our harsh political climate as people “pick sides” (mostly online) in order to feel like they are somehow part of a greater community.
The answer, while clear, is not always easy to embrace.
Just like going to the gym requires effort, so does socialization. If you want to have your neighbor over, you might need to tidy the house. If you want to go out, you might need to wash your hair and your jeans. Like many other areas in life, a set of well defined values, desires and sense of personal mission come into play and help us bust through roadblocks to reach our goals and develop our best selves. Imagine the shape of the life you want to live- put it up on a story board or just describe it in words, create a personal statement that encompasses your vision.
Read it every morning; challenge the status quo.
The answer to combating loneliness may ironically be found deep inside.