By Josh Mitchell
How do we identify lonely people other than the fact that they are alone? Just because we see a person alone at the store does not mean they are lonely. They could have a whole bunch of family and friends at home. How do we reach out to the lonely with something as simple as saying “hello” or even just making eye contact and smiling if we cannot identify them?
One idea is to just say hello to everyone and smile at everyone. Andy Rooney said smiling is the easiest way for people to improve their looks.
The word lonely is defined by Merriam-Webster as “being without company or cut off from others.”
In our daily routines we may continually pass by people who are always alone and may not be smiling. This could possibly be a sign of loneliness. For these people, maybe we should reach out a little more than just a smile or a “hello” and take a minute to stop and chat.
Maybe all of us have a bit of loneliness in our lives. Reaching out to a person who is lonelier than us might make the world a little less lonesome.
Making a difference in the life of someone who is lonely does not take a degree in psychology. But it does require compassion, empathy and little boldness to stop and talk to someone we don’t know.
In London, there is an organization called the Campaign to End Loneliness, and it is supported by a number of foundations. The group poses a question: Could you go a week without seeing anyone?
The organization made a YouTube video documenting a young man’s experiment living without his phone or contact from anyone for a week to show the psychological impact. The young man missed the feeling of “having a connection.” He heard neighbors going out, but all he felt was a “constant nothingness” and being “left out.”
Another person on the film said loneliness is not something people really think about until it happens to them. That person said loneliness “can be devastating” and that it is important to “be aware of people” and make the effort to talk to them. Loneliness has also been associated with poor health.
The organization allows people to submit their story of loneliness on its website. There is a stigma around loneliness, and it can be hard for people to admit that they are lonely, it added.
Together, we can help fight loneliness and end the stigma. Those who are not lonely today could be in the future.
Josh Mitchell is the news editor at Corinth Today and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.