It might take some practice to find what will prevent feelings of loneliness and make you feel truly connected, but surrounding yourself with strong community is worth the effort.
If there’s ever a time when we want to feel connected, it is undoubtedly during the winter holiday season, when every commercial shows off big joyous families and our social media feeds are filled with everyone else’s seemingly busy and fun lives.
Unfortunately, for many of us, though we like the idea of gathering with people we love, our reality rarely matches up with our hopes and dreams.
What is Loneliness?
We all know how loneliness feels—that desire for more real connection. It can be a fleeting moment or a lasting sting. It’s a universal need. Much like hunger tells us when we need food, thirst tells us when we need water, and exhaustion tells us when we need sleep, those pangs of loneliness tell us we need to be with other people, experiencing meaningful connection.
How Can We Feel Connected?
To feel the hunger for connection means we’re alive and healthy. It is the catalyst intended to push us toward strengthening our connection to others. The best response to that feeling is to ask yourself: What can I do to create more meaningful connections in my life?
Here are four ways to inspire yourself to enjoy the type of connection that matters most to you.
1. Initiate a Gathering.
For some, it’s easy to fill a month up with busy-ness. Others live with angst that no one is reaching out to connect. Either way, you may look back on the month and feel disappointed that you didn’t experience strong connections with the people you’d have preferred to spend time with. Who is one person you’d like to meet up with for drinks, dinner, or a concert? Bravely put out an invitation, get it on the books, and follow through. If you’re craving even more connection, here are some tips to host a dinner party with meaningful conversation.
2. Call One Person with Whom You’ve Drifted Apart.
Who do you miss? Who have you not spoken to, or seen, for a while? Without overthinking it, call them. Whether they answer, or you leave a voicemail, let them know “Hey I had a few moments and you popped into my mind as someone I hadn’t connected with for a while, so I’m calling to see how you’re doing! You’re missed. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!” Dishing out the warm fuzzies gives you a hefty helping for yourself as well.
3. Help Someone Else.
Serving others—whether it’s doing a spontaneous kind deed for a stranger or neighbor, or volunteering to contribute to an event or a cause—reminds us in tangible ways that we are connected to others. It can be a catalyst to helping us feel valuable, seen, and needed.
4. Go for Depth, not Breadth.
At any gathering, office party, or event this holiday season, the chances are greater that you’ll find your connections more meaningful if you stick around for conversations that go beyond your standard 2-3 party questions. Practice curiosity and ask follow-up questions. Choose to share information about yourself with authenticity. Most importantly, if you meet someone you’d like to continue to connect with—follow up with them afterward, thanking them for the time they shared with you.
Quality Over Quantity
Your goal shouldn’t just be to connect with more people—you need to connect with the right people in ways that feel meaningful to you. It might take a bit of practice to fine tune your instincts about what will actually stave off feelings of loneliness in your life and make you feel truly connected, but there’s no work more meaningful in this life than surrounding yourself with strong community.