Sunday, August 9, 2009
I read a study today that indicates loneliness is bad for your health. Staying in a lonely marriage is bad for your health. Extroverts need friends more than introverts to avoid being lonely. I’m reading all of this and I cannot help but wonder if we continue to point at the finger pointing at the moon instead of looking at the moon. Stay with me here a moment and think about this. Is loneliness a real feeling or emotion or is it a perception that spawns emotions we choose to hold onto? Think about it before you jump right out of the gate and say loneliness is real.
Then, the next step is, if you decide that you really are lonely, what will you do about that? Will you sit there feeling bad because you think other people aren’t lonely or that other people have a mate, a friend or a family and are lucky they don’t have to be lonely? What if loneliness is just a want that you perceive can only be filled in a certain way? That means your perception would be set by certain expectations and those expectations may keep you lonely unnecessarily.
So, I’ve had lonely times in my life but I don’t mind my own company. I once purposely remained alone, aside from my kids, on purpose for 3 years. I wanted a good long amount of time to think about my life, where I had been, where I was and where I might be going. I couldn’t do that with the distraction of friendships of any kind. So, I became a hermit mom by choice. I felt lonely but never depressed because I was alone by choice. On those rare occasions where it got to be too much, I’d take myself out to dinner and eat at the bar where the other single folks dined. I’d strike up conversations with servers, bar-tenders, other customers. I’d go shopping and talk to people shopping. I’d go to the beach with a cup of coffee and smile at people, talk to people and just enjoy wherever I was and whatever I was doing. I’d then go home to a peaceful home.
Some people lock themselves into a lonely reality by taking the “green light” approach to life. All the lights must be green for 5 miles down the road before you could get into your car and head to a destination. But, what if instead, you made left or right turns? What if you threw your destination out the window, tossed convention, eradicated expectations and walked out into the world open minded with a sense of wonder and invited contact by being open to it? There would still be those days that people just weren’t talking and on such days, I’d think to myself that "This is a good quiet day." I’d get on the internet instead or read a great book. I would draw, write, fantasize, nap, organize, play cards or exercise. I ended up a bit lonely last year and so took up a tennis class. It was fun just for the human relation factor and it was not expensive at all.
When you drop expectations and allow yourself to be open to new experiences, people and new things, they come and loneliness becomes an indulgent feeling you mire yourself in. You’re only lonely when you want to be. If you want to talk, go talk to a neighbor. If you’re bored, go see if you can volunteer at the local elderly residential home or the hospital. You can offer to read books to sick children in the hospital. You can get involved in a cause. There are so many things that you can choose to do instead of sit inside the walls of your home feeling sorry for yourself and so sad that you do not have what you perceive you need. Live your life optimistically and never give up that optimism. Never give up options. Never lock yourself into only a certain way of approaching life or approaching the world and people in it and you will find that loneliness is a fleeting indulgent feeling. If you must indulge, accept that you are lonely, feel it for a few moments and then let it go by doing something about it. People won’t typically fall into your living room and want to talk. Sometimes you have to get out there and be the ear or voice that you need and that act will ultimately bring you friendship and people that will help keep you from feeling lonely.
Just food for thought.