Everyone feels lonely some time, but how can we stop feeling lonely? Researchers investigated this in a study recently reported on by NBC news. The question was does loneliness make us seek things or do things make us lonely? They found for some it works both ways, but not for all. Do you use shopping as a way to combat loneliness?
Loneliness is surprisingly common, with 20% of Americans saying their lonely at any one time. About one third suffer from chronic loneliness. Loneliness increases stress high blood pressure and possibly premature death. So how can we combat loneliness?
In this study they divided people’s approach to material items into three groups. There were those who liked having things for the sake of the things themselves. Second group like things for the social status they brought. And the third group never felt they could have enough stuff.
Those who like things for the sake of the items tended to be happier and not as lonely. For them getting new things did not make them lonelier nor did loneliness seem to make them want more stuff.
For the second group that sought items for social status shopping brought only short-term gains their increase in social status was short lived and they soon felt lonely again. This seem to be a recurrent spiral. Loneliness made them seek things. Things eventually made them lonely again.
The third group seem to be stuck in loneliness. Buying things did not make them happier. And being unhappy seem to cause them to be alone with the things. They could neither have enough stuff or enough friends.
How can you become less lonely?
We can think of several ways to be less lonely. Shopping was the example in this study. But we can think of the lonely man sitting in a bar. Or “all those lonely people” sitting in a church in the Beatles song. These may be attempts to get ourselves out among other people but are they really satisfying our need?
What lonely people seek this connection with others. While watching a movie in a theater may seem more connected than watching at home is it really satisfying our need? Isn’t what we really need, getting together with those people and talking about how we feel about the movie and how the movie made us feel?
It would seem that the solution to loneliness is in connecting with people and sharing with people. Not in just being around people. How do you connect with others?
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As All Ways, Seek Joy
coach Dr. Dave
author of the upcoming book “Recipes for Lemonade (Thriving through Disability): Dr. Dave’s personal recipe”