Feeling lonely? We're in the middle of a loneliness epidemic. Here's what you can do about it. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
For a time in the West, individualism or "rugged individualism" was extolled as a virtue. Recent data says that mythic concept of self may be incredibly unhealthy. The evidence is overwhelming that we're better together. Individualism may be fueling the expansion of the mental health crisis in the States and other places around the world.
This article from Forbes says our inability to be in cohesive groups of friends and family may trigger real tangible health challenges such as hunger, thirst and physical pain....http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/loneliness-is-a-modern-day-epidemic/
Some may believe the loneliness epidemic is being caused by the growth of the elderly population around the world. As people get older, many of their friends may have passed on, leaving those who remain with fewer people to interact with. But in this new study reprinted in US News and World Report, young people are suffering the most from loneliness....https://www.usnews.com/news/health-care-news/articles/2018-05-01/study-many-americans-report-feeling-lonely-younger-generations-more-so
In this article in INSIDER, the authors suggest that it's not that people are choosing to be lonely, but that modern societies are not structured for meaningful connection. Even more, this report says loneliness is contagious...https://www.thisisinsider.com/why-do-i-feel-lonely-2018-6
Is social media part of the problem of the loneliness epidemic? Of course, but maybe differently than we think. Check out this article from PsychologyToday....https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gen-y-guide/201702/the-2-reasons-why-so-many-people-are-becoming-lonelier
WHAT WE CAN DO TO REDUCE OUR LONELINESS.
Based on my interactions in social groups around the world and even managing my own bouts with loneliness, there are four strategies I would highly suggest. These are not substitutes for those of you who may be suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder, but as options for those of you who feel you can do more to reduce your loneliness periods.
1. Set "touchstone" dates with your friends. I have a male friend who I connect with at least once a week at lunch. Not a text, not an email, not a phone call --- an in-person hour or two over good food. In our societies, we have a tendency to wait for these kinds of interactions to happen spontaneously. The truth is that they must be organized and planned as part of our schedules. The more regularly they are planned, the more they will become a touchstone that allows you to keep in touch with your humanity.
2. Reduce your social media time. I know, you've heard it before, but reducing your time on devices, gives you more time to reclaim. You can put that time to use scheduling a luncheon date with a friend and have true social interaction.
3. Embrace Ubuntu as your belief system. The mythology behind rugged individualism has created infrastructure that supports loneliness in our societies. It's time to embrace a new belief system that supports healthy connection and interaction. When I used to teach leadership classes at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, I was introduced to the philosophy of Ubuntu --- we are all connected, thus our challenges and our successes are shared. My suspicion is that having this as a belief system will help us create connected supports.
4. Host a dinner, once a quarter with friends as well as strangers. There is nothing more powerful than breaking bread together. Invite a bunch of people over your home for a potluck get together for conversation and good food. This increases your human interaction touch points, expands your field of friends and associates and can put your culinary skills to work.
Over the next 3-5years as we walk through an unprecedented global paradigm shift, we'll need each other to help us navigate the rough waves to create new possibilities.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org