The UK introduced a new government role in 2018: Minister for Loneliness. Theresa May, the PM at the time, said: “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.” 1
Media coverage focused on the health effects of loneliness (e.g. worse than smoking 15 cigarettes per day). Then the pandemic happened and the world saw on a massive scale the effects of cutting off humans from one another – loneliness.
To be clear, loneliness is not uniquely British. Japan followed suit with a similar role to combat social isolation in 2021. A global survey on the prevalence of loneliness found Canadians in the middle of the pack. Brazil topped the list with 50 percent of respondents declaring that they felt lonely either often, always, or sometimes. 2
Look, I’m not here to spout facts about loneliness. My purpose is to establish that there is a worldwide epidemic of loneliness and it’s not talked about enough.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution: connection.
Basic Human Needs: Food, Water, Connection
You already know that humans are social animals. Humans need connection as much as food and water. You would never tell someone not to drink a glass of water if they were thirsty. The same goes for loneliness. If you’re lonely, connect with someone else.
Why do people associate shame or weakness with needing to connect versus needing a drink of water? Both fulfil basic human needs.
By placing individualism above all, I believe loneliness is inevitable. If you can only rely on yourself, then it’s up to you to fulfil all your needs. “I don’t need help, thank you very much. I’m fine.” Or, let me quote Ruth Zardo from Louise Penny who wrote a poetry book called I’m F.I.N.E., which stands for f&%*ed up, insecure, neurotic, and egotistical.
Loneliness can be easily cured by addressing the fundamental human need to connect.
Connect Internally then Externally
Connection begins with you, looking within yourself before looking externally. When you don’t know your inner self, you get swayed by public opinion and how others see you. You get defined instead of defining yourself. No agency. Start connecting internally by identifying your values, not your family’s or society’s.
From your internal connection to Self, you move externally. The natural next step is your family, then friends. Connect to them through loving kindness. It doesn’t mean you must know all the answers or be the “best” mom/friend/girl-boss. It just means being there for someone. Simply put, that’s what connection is. Being there means being present. Witnessing. Being with someone.
Ocean Waves Symbolize Connection
Connection is both a feeling and an experience. I feel connected when I see myself in another. Specifically, I’m referring to my common humanity not my personality. I experience connection when my heart, mind, body, or spirit touches another.
How would your relationships evolve if you knew you were connected to every living person? You are part of them, and they are part of you because of this connection.
Remember, you are not lonely when you’re connected. You are One with everyone else and with the larger Universe, Source, Spirit, or God, however you want to call it. Waves in the ocean over one large body of water. Where does one wave end and another start?
Header photo by Andrew Shiau on Unsplash, Smoker photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash, Girls connecting photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash, Ocean Waves photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash