Einstein said, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth but delicious in the years of maturity.” I live there too, these days. It’s new to me, brought on by shifting circumstances and changing times…
Much has been written about loneliness in recent months – and not just about the elderly who find themselves alone in later life.
There’s no question that having a support system and a sense of community is important as we get older. Face-to-face friendships matter. Study after study report that friendships are vital to longevity, and to our physical and mental health.
“Why do I feel lonely in a group?” This was the question that one of my friends asked as we sat in a coffee shop after a trip to the gym. She explained that, since she was still working, she was always surrounded by other people. But, she still felt lonely most of the time.
Loneliness is a funny thing; it can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Have you found that you’re not socializing as much at this point in your life?
Loneliness is a complex problem. For starters, being alone is not the same as being lonely. Our feelings of loneliness come from how we interpret our situation, not from the simple fact that we are by ourselves.
As anyone who has experienced loneliness can tell you, feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. At the same time, it is possible to have many people in your life, while still feeling lonely.
Sometimes, the circumstances that lead to our loneliness are out of our control. Some of us have lost our spouses or gone through a divorce. Others have children who are building their own lives in another part of the world.
A recent study saying that loneliness and social isolation are a major health hazard is no surprise to millions of people who are alone and lonely. Not having the fundamental human experience of connectedness is painful and even dangerous, especially if you are older.
One of the most common misconceptions about loneliness is that it goes away as we add more people to our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many people that I know have 100’s of “friends” on Facebook. They may even live with someone else. But, they still feel lonely.
The Internet is probably the greatest purveyor of communication since the printing press. Thanks to that brilliant invention, the world is now virtually connected with the click of a mouse.