I’ve just finished reading a really interesting article about loneliness on the BBC website . It raises interesting points about the way that our lifestyles have changed and how that may have led to more and more people categorising themselves as being lonely.
As someone who enjoys spending time alone as much as spending time with friends and family, I was pleased to see that the article referred to how subjective loneliness is and how it can’t be defined in an objective way. For many people are lonely while being surrounded by others. It seems to me that the main difference is whether or not you feel connected to others and that can be helped by spending time in their presence but that is not essential.
Social networking has often been blamed for adding to social problems but for those who are not easily mobile it can be a vital lifeline in connecting them to others. For those of us who work alone from home it can be the daily link to the outside world that reminds us that we are not alone and that there are others to share with whenever we need to.
The sentence that struck me most in the whole article was this one:
“Often it’s when people lose a sense of purpose and contribution.”
This, to me, sums up the underlying problem with modern day living. For many of us the sense of purpose and of making a worth-while contribution to the world around us has been lost. I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who has found that she does have a sense of purpose and can make a real contribution to the society in which I live but for many of the clients that I work with you can tell that they have lost some of this connection, direction and sense of purpose.
I would say that this is why there is such a fantastic response to campaigns such as Comic Relief, despite the fact that many are suffering harder times financially. They want to have that sense of purpose, the ability to help others and in that way to connect with them.
It is also reflected in the rise of organisations like Climb Your Mountain. Set-up to help those suffering from depression and anxiety it runs walking groups and organises social events that help bring people together and fill them with a sense of camaraderie and common purpose; increasing the well-being of those who turn to them for support and the volunteers who help to run and support the events.