Loneliness is on the rise, despite our growing connectedness through social media. That’s what a 2018 report by Cigna found. The company surveyed 20,000 Americans to learn their level of solitude and what’s behind it.
Those most affected by loneliness are young adults between the ages of 18 and 22. They no longer fit in with the familiarity of their high school days, but neither do they feel they fit in with adults. It’s a strange time in life. I remember feeling that awkwardness in my day.
I’ve had other lonely times, as well: when I was a stay-at-home mom of my five kids and when I worked from home while my kids were in school. On my loneliest days, I found hanging out at a local coffee shop brought relief, even if I didn’t interact with a lot of people around me. Just being around people helped.
"People will never forget how you made them feel."
The survey found that those who have frequent, meaningful, in-person interactions are the least lonely. And that makes perfect sense. Something about those interactions makes us feel important. So are we any less important when those interactions are lacking? No, but our brains can trick us into thinking otherwise.
What do we do with this information?
It’s clear people need us. Someone needs your smile. Someone needs to know you care. Are you willing to step up to help?
Maybe you’re lonely too. Somebody has to make the first move to reach out. Who knows? You could strike up a wonderful friendship. But even if you don’t, you will have made a difference in someone’s life just by making him or her feel important, like a woman did simply by paying for the coffee of the person behind her in line at Starbucks.
As Poet Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I challenge you to make someone feel significant.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"