Did you know that 1 in 4 people don’t feel close enough to another person to talk about a personal problem?
The Washington Post published a recent article entitled Loneliness Grows from Individual Ache to Public Health Hazard, which chronicles the severity of loneliness in the United States.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Cole and his colleagues at the UCLA School of Medicine, along with collaborators at the University of California at Davis and the University of Chicago, uncovered complex immune system responses at work in lonely people. They found that social isolation turned up the activity of genes responsible for inflammation and turned down the activity of genes that produce antibodies to fight infection.
Many of you know that social connection is a cornerstone of a happy, healthy life. If you were to pause and look back over the course of your life, you’d probably see that some of your happiest moments have been experienced in others’ company.
On the flip side, as much as you know about the importance of relationships, it’s easy to forget in the frenzy of daily life about connecting in a way that brings out the best in each other. Taking time to reflect on your relational health gives you a chance to look honestly at how your relationships are faring, and where appropriate, bring greater intention to nurturing the connection.
Below is a short Relationship Assessment that can serve as a tool for deeper insight and more meaningful connection.
- How happy are you with your relationships? In what ways do your relationships nourish – or drain – you? Do you make a point to spend time with people who nourish you? Do you set boundaries with people who drain you?
- It’s common to sacrifice your own happiness in order to stay in certain relationships. You might think you’ve invested too much time and energy to move on. What if you allowed yourself to let go of the past and act on what you want most today?
- Relationships are a dance of give and take. Are you aware of what makes the other person happy? Do you make a point to nourish their happiness through certain gestures, activities and agreements? How about you… are your needs met? Do you take time out of your busy life to talk openly about needs, hopes, worries, and dreams?
- Simone Weil said, “Attention is the rarest and purist form of generosity.” Do you nourish your relationships with warm, interested attention? Do you make a point to set aside your own agenda and simply listen? Do you plan time away from devices to really be together?
- It’s too easy to focus on where others are falling short. Do you spend time appreciating others’ goodness and strengths? Do you tell them what you most appreciate? We’re not all that great at mind reading (as much as we like to think we are!), so go ahead and tell them.
- The Dalai Lama said, “Treat everyone like an old friend.” How are you with people you don’t know? Are you friendly and patient, or uninterested and hurried? What mark do you leave on people who’ve been in your presence?
Whether you’re aware if it or not, every encounter has an impact, for better or worse. Starting in your own home, neighborhood, and workplace, you can relate to others in a way that brings out the best in them, modeling care, understanding, and respect while inspiring kindness and connectedness from one person to the next.
Together, we can stop the perpetuation of loneliness and increase the tonnage of health and happiness across the world.