Who is to say that someone else is lonely? No one, because that can only be determined by the person who feels it. C an we measure loneliness ? No, as yet there is no definitive measurement of it. Does one gender experience loneliness more than the other? Again, we do not have an answer . Are we lonelier today than yesteryear ? Yes, according to social scientists, we can blame the start of today’s loneliness on the Enlightenment (1650 – 1800) because that was when people began to leave close knit, small rural communities to make their fortunes in the cities . With so many questions about the subjective experience of loneliness, here are three questions and answers to ponder.
Why is connection with others a major driver of wellbeing ? Connection, in this sense, means close social bonds with family, friends, or companions with whom we spend quality time as we exercise, read , cook , or play games , etc. While each of us has our own socialization comfort zone and t he frequency of bonding depends upon the needs of the individual, w hat is always necessary to build connections is bond ing regularly with the same person(s) or groups. A weekly trip to an assisted living facility to visit with a different person or set of people each time may make us feel good, but it does not build a strong connection with any one who may desperately crave it . Connecting with one person or the same small group of two to three individuals during those visit s creates a bond comparable to the one people experienced hundreds of years ago before people left their small close – knit communities to strike out alone for the big city. Social scientists point to the emotional loneliness caused by a lack of meaningful contact as a reason that wellbeing suffers. Meaningful contact is what counts because superficial social contact is not enough. Strong connections have the ability to counter the loneliness, depression, and anxiety we all feel at times. With meaningful personal connections, it is easier to pull ourselves out of an emotional slump that if left to itself could become chronic. Healthcare professionals warn that chronic emotional slumps are notorious for giving way to hypertension, heart disease an d crippling emotional distress, so connect and help others to connect to improve and maintain wellbeing .