How many friends do you have? I don’t mean Facebook friends, I mean real friends. Someone you can call on at any minute and you know they will be there for you. And no, don’t include a family member just because they are like a friend to you. There is still some bit of obligation with them.
I’m talking about someone that you can confide in and trust. Someone that will listen when your upset about work and tell you that they think your clients are idiots too. Someone that will give you a hug when you’ve had your heart broken again and give you a pep talk that the next one will be better. Someone that you can have deep conversations with on just about anything, even when your drunk. Someone that respects your political views and religious views and never judge you for them. Someone who just checks in with you just to make sure you are still kick’in every once in awhile.
“It’s not the quantity of friends, it’s the quality.”
If your answer is one, I’m happy. If your answer is two or three, I’m super happy. If your answer is four or five, I’m ecstatic! Really, I’m ecstatic! In today’s world, it is very difficult to nurture a relationship to this level. We think that being Facebook friends is enough. Mostly what you see is the good stuff, a promotion at work, little Johnny lost a tooth, new cars, vacations, sunny days….you get the point. What your not seeing is that your “friend” just had a scary mammogram, might be getting a divorce, and hates Monday’s because they hate their job. Just because you see someone’s news feed doesn’t mean you know who they are or what is really happening in their life.
“We require social interaction!”
But I’m here to remind you that online interaction does NOT fill the need that a touch of a hand, eye contact, and a simple smile can do. To sit across from someone and just listen, nod your head, tell them it will be okay. Or laughing, laughing so hard it hurts! When was the last time you did that? Sit in a coffee shop and make a scene, so much that you get other people laughing at you. Isn’t this what this world needs? I think so!
Loneliness is a growing epidemic in United States. If you listen to our former US Surgeon General on loneliness he will tell you we need to address this concern as much as smoking and obesity. We ALL need to make a conscious effort for ourselves and our friends. Are you lonely? Do you know the signs of loneliness? Here are some questions that UCLA’s Loneliness scale by Daniel Russell. Note how you feel according to this ranking. Never = Rarely = Sometimes = Always
- How often do you feel that you are “in tune” with the people around you?
- How often do you feel part of a group of friends?
- How often do you feel that you have a lot in common with the people around you?
- How often do you feel outgoing and friendly?
- How often do you feel close to people?
- How often do you feel you can find companionship when you want it?
- How often do you feel that there are people who really understand you?
- How often do you feel that there are people you can talk to?
- How often do you feel that there are people you can turn to?
There are eleven more questions to this test, but these are my favorite because they are so eye opening. Keep in mind we can slip in and out of loneliness, it isn’t just a constant feeling.
Loneliness is a biological aversive signal in your brain that tells you to reconnect with people. This is the same signal for when you feel hungry or thirsty. You wouldn’t go without water or food, would you? It’s dangerous when someone has prolonged isolation or to be without meaningful relationships. They will suffer from loneliness to the point where it causes a whole host of unhealthy choices and concerns.
My message today is to reach out to someone. Take the time to go for coffee. Stop saying you’re too busy! Meet at the park for a walk, go bowling or shoot some pool. There’s a million things you could do, but there’s only one way to do it…get Offline!