Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
I think the greatest malady of older folks is loneliness. For many it starts with retirement, a time when all the people you spent time with each workday are no longer providing the fellowship that so often accompanies interaction with fellow workers. Many of us find positive human contact during time spent with family and friends only to find their numbers dwindling as time goes by, some move, some pass on and others just drift away.
We all need the benefits we get from our relationship with others and life becomes dreary when we don’t have much human contact. The choice we have is to drift into further isolation and stagnation or to invest in ourselves by taking action to fill the empty chairs. Here are excerpts from an article on the Free People blog I saved some time ago, it seems to me it provides antidotes to the ills associated with toxic loneliness.
How To Feel Better When You’re Alone
If you think, think positive.
Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. Being alone and without anyone to talk to makes it easy for thoughts to run wild in our head. Rather than dwelling on mistakes or things that take your mind to a negative place, think about things that get you excited, or times when you’ve felt the happiest. Keeping a journal filled with feel-good quotes is an easy way to get thinking upwards. Whenever you come across one you like, write it down. The next time you’re alone and need some words of encouragement, read back through your journal.
Getting out of the house is the best thing to do when you’re feeling alone. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block. Feeling the warmth of sunshine on my skin and being in the outside air makes me appreciate the day, and encourages me to explore new places. If you live in a city, try walking around a neighborhood you haven’t spent much time in, or drive to the next town over and find out what it has to offer. You might even make a new friend in the process.
Plan a trip.
Being alone isn’t very exciting, so do something to get you excited about times ahead, like planning a trip. Use the down time you have to think about where you want to go, who you want to bring along, and all of the things you can do when you’re there. It it’s a road trip, try embroidering out your route for something creative and useful to do. If you have that dream location you’ve always wanted to travel to, figure out exactly how you are going to get there.
Go to a coffee shop.
Even though you might not be surrounded by people you know and love, you can still surround yourself with people. I’ve found that being in a room full of strangers is sometimes better than being in a room with just yourself when you are feeling lonely. Coffee shops are perfect for this. Spend a few hours at your favorite one, reading, drawing, surfing the web or just relaxing. Chances are, there’s someone sitting right next to you doing the same thing for the exact same reason.
Friendship needs no words – it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.
A gent from Chicago was on a fishing vacation up north in the Wisconsin woods He was out fishing on a lake in a small boat and not having much luck. He noticed a man in another small boat that was close by, open his tackle box and take out a mirror. Being curious the man rowed over and enquired, “What is the mirror for?”
“That’s my secret way to catch fish,” replied the other man. “I Shine the mirror on the top of the water. The fish notice the spot of sun on the water above and they swim up to the surface. Then I just reach down and net them and pull them into the boat.”
“Wow! Does that really work?” exclaimed the guy from Chicago.
“You bet it does.” was the response.
“Would you be interested in selling that mirror? I’ll give you $30 for it.” offered the big city gent.
“Well, okay.” said the country guy.
After the money was transferred, the city fisherman asked, “By the way, how many fish have you caught this week?”
The country local, grinned and said, “You’re the sixth.”
“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
“I had the toughest time of my life. First, I got angina pectoris and then arteriosclerosis. Just as I was recovering from these, I got tuberculosis, double pneumonia and phthisis. Then they gave me hypodermics. Appendicitis was followed by tonsillectomy. These gave way to aphasia and hypertrophic cirrhosis. I completely lost my memory for a while. I know I had diabetes and acute ingestion, besides gastritis, rheumatism, lumbago and neuritis. I don’t know how I pulled through it. It was the hardest spelling test I’ve ever had.”
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
An old fellow came into the hospital truly on death’s door due to an infected gallbladder. The surgeon who removed the gallbladder was adamant that his patients be up and walking in the hall the day after surgery, to help prevent blood clots forming in the leg veins. The nurses walked the patient in the hall as ordered, and after the third day the nurse told how he complained bitterly each time they did. The surgeon told them to keep walking him.
After a week, the patient was ready to go. His family came to pick him up and thanked the surgeon profusely for what he had done for their father. The surgeon was pleased and appreciated the thanks, but told them that it was really a simple operation and we had been lucky to get him in time. “But doctor, you don’t understand,” they said, “Dad hasn’t walked in over a year!”
“Did you know that hospital gowns come in three sizes?
“Short, shorter, and don’t bend over!”
In 1990 a woman entered a Haagen-Dazs in the Kansas City Plaza for an ice-cream cone. While she was ordering, another customer entered the store. She placed her order, turned and found herself face to face with Paul Newman. He was in town filming a movie. His blue eyes made her knees buckle. She finished paying and quickly walked out of the store, her heart still pounding. Gaining her composure she suddenly realized she didn’t have her cone; she turned to go back in. At the door she again came face-to-face with Paul Newman who was coming out. He said to her, “Are you looking for your ice-cream cone?” Unable to utter a word she nodded yes. “You put it in your purse with your change.”
If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
A blonde is on board a small two seater plane when suddenly the pilot dies. Not knowing how to fly a plane she grabs the radio. “Mayday, Mayday! My pilot just died!” she screams.
Ground control receives her call for help and answers back: “Don’t worry, madam. I’ll talk you down, just do as I say. First I need you to give me your height and position”
“I’m 5″2′ and sitting in the front”
The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.
Pearl S. Buck
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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