That feeling of being disconnected, of being left out, of having no one who loves you . . . that's loneliness. It is the plague of our times. It affects everyone, but it is most common among recently-divorced and elderly people.
You might think the solution to unhappiness is wealth, or celebrity or power. However, research has compared people who are rich and famous with people who are poor and unknown, asking which group is happier. The answer? Wealth and position have nothing to do with happiness.
A person is happy to the degree that she feels connected to other people. You can be miserably poor but, if you feel deeply connected to your fiends and family, you will be happier than any billionaire who lacks that social connection.
Sadly, loneliness is epidemic among the elderly.
And it has deadly effects: Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut.
Social isolation is so serious in some places today that Britain has created a new Ministry of Loneliness to provide services to residents there. For two short articles on this, read:
"How Social Isolation Is Killing Us" at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/upshot/how-social-isolation-is-killing-us.html?emc=edit_nn_20161223&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=70560319&te=1
and "Britain, The Loneliness Capital of Europe" at:
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