Loneliness Is Death

There is a very important article in the Wall Street Journal today on the link of loneliness to death. 


Frightening loneliness statistics:


– One in 11 Americans over age 50 “lacks a spouse, partner, or living child.”


– More than 1 in 4 baby boomers is divorced or never married.  


– 1 out of every 6 people lives alone. 


Research indicates that loneliness leads to early death. 


The impact of loneliness is equivalent to:


– Smoking 15 cigarettes a day


– Drinking 6 alcoholic beverages a day


Loneliness is worse for mortality than:


– Obesity 


– Physical activity


“The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful…we have to address loneliness,” says the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 


Whether you are extroverted or introverted, we all need human interaction, sharing, caring, touch, and love.  


Truly, no man is an island!


Those that are stranded on loneliness island need to escape it and make their way back to human civilization.


Alone our lives are dull and stunted; but together, we have the inherent social dynamics to be able to experientially learn, grow, change and mature. 


Alone we die–together we live. 


It’s not just power in numbers, it’s life itself. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Do No Right?

Criticism.jpeg

Do you ever feel like you can do no right?


That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.


That’s because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.


– Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.


– Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing. 


– Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters. 


– Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn’t spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits. 


– Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks–family, friends, community, colleagues, others–but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities. 


So you say, but why can’t we just do everything we’re supposed to do, and simply balance?


Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else. 


So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt. 


The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing–“Honey can you answer the phone?”


Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work. 


As they say, you can’t be–physically or mentally–in two places at the same time!


Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.


But as the demands in life forever ask more of us–even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us–somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much. 


So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn’t have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there…well, how do you think you will stack up?


Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.


Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that. 


There is no one right answer for everyone!


And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren’t paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.


But who cares–it’s our life to live and we can live it as we want?


True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren’t going as we would ultimately want or dream they should–we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.


(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)

Can You Just Stop And Think?

Think

So oddly, one thing that many people these days find really hard to do is STOP AND THINK.


What do I mean?


Be alone, do nothing, and just take the time to be with yourself and think.


–without your smartphone, television, music, game, or even a book. 


Just you, the four walls, and your brain…thinking, thinking, thinking.


Feeling a little jittery, scared yet. 


Why are people afraid to stop and think? 


Is it because within the thinking is some craziness, fear, anxiety, and even remorse?


Are there overwhelming feelings and thoughts about issues, events, people, and places that are unresolved and painful. 


Also, by ourselves and in our thoughts, we can realize how weak, vulnerable, and mortal we are. 


If we are here in our own heads, maybe no one will even notice we are gone or maybe no one will even miss us–maybe they’ll replace us?


We’re so easily ditched, replaceable, just another character in a long cast of characters.


When we stop and think, do we worry about all the other things we’re not doing or getting done…perhaps, we don’t have the time to think, because we need to be doing, doing, doing. 


And if we’re not moving forward doing something, then we are being left behind!


But doesn’t thinking lead to more purposeful doing?


A little upfront thinking and planning, maybe can save you some serious time wasted just acting out. 


Somehow, like a prisoner in isolation though too much alone time with your own thoughts is enough to drive anyone crazy, docile, and ready to behave just to get out, interact with other human beings, and doing something.


We need to stay active, not be bored, so we don’t think too much.


When I was in the hospital recently, one orderly named Kelvin, saw me sitting there by myself thinking, and he said to me, “Oh no, you don’t want to have too much time to think. Block those thoughts out of your mind. Why don’t you watch some TV?”  


Smart Kelvin. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)