3. Organize a weekly dinner for friends and acquaintances that you want to see more of
Remember how I said loneliness is an epidemic? And that a crazy-high percentage of people also feel lonely? Well then, it’s safe to assume that it isn’t just you. This isn’t a ‘you problem’… it’s a society-wide problem.
Which… drum roll, please… means that there are other people who are just as hungry for deep connection as you are, and they’re waiting for an opportunity to hang out with people just like you!
They’re so… so hungry.
But here’s the thing…
Everyone wants to connect, but few people want to initiate it.
But wait! That gives you a competitive advantage.
If everyone is coming home from work and just twiddling their thumbs (or scrolling their thumbs over their social media feed) then that must mean that they’re all waiting for something awesome to do.
“Good times and crazy friends make the best memories.”
Be that instigator of awesome by bringing together a weekly group of friends and acquaintances. Be the hub of the social circle.
If you currently have absolutely zero friends, then start there. Start by inviting two or three people from work who you kind of like or are interested in knowing more. Invite your cousin. Invite that person you met via an online dating app but it didn’t really go anywhere. Invite whoever… as long as you’re genuinely curious about them, and/or might want to invest in your relationship with them.
If you want to go low-cost, you can have the group be a book club. If you want to really ball-out, you can host a full-on dinner where you provide all of the food, drinks, and Jenga blocks (because is it really a party without a rousing game of Jenga? – unrelated side note: Jenga, please sponsor my blog I love your game so much you basically raised me, k thanks).
Again, everyone is always looking for cool, unique experiences to have, but people are inherently lazy and don’t want to be the fire-starter who makes it happen. Be that fire-starter. Organize the dinner. As a one-off thing, or ideally, as an ongoing, weekly event.
One of the most commonly prescribed (non-medicinal) pieces of advice that people suffering from chronic depression get is to volunteer.
When we’re struggling, drowning in our own minds, and painfully aware of our loneliness, we are simply too close to our own problems.
Rumination is one of the fastest ways to spiral into our own minds and experience pain. Do you think it’s a coincidence that extended solitary confinement is one of the highest forms of punishment in prison?
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Find a way to get out into your community and volunteer in a way that utilizes a gift that you have to give.
You can ladle out soup at a soup kitchen. Or you could volunteer as a Big Brother to young men. Or give your time and attention to a rape relief shelter, animal shelter, or at an old folks home. Whatever you do, make sure that it means something to you personally. And give it your all when you are there.
Don’t be surprised if you leave your volunteer shifts with a huge, beaming smile plastered across your beautiful face.
5. Become a member of regular social clubs
People that struggle with feelings of loneliness would do well to find social containers that have built-in ongoing commitments to them. That way, you can say yes to one social event, and you might actually be saying yes to 52 social events per year (if it were a weekly group)!
Find a common interest group, hobbyist group, or women’s/men’s group in your area, and commit to it.
One of the most important things that I did for myself three years ago when I was doubling down on my social life was joining a weekly men’s group (that I have now attended, every week, for the last three years). Knowing that, no matter how hermit-y of a week I had, I would always have a social container of 15-20 men who knew me and cared about me gave my life a buoyancy that I previously didn’t feel.
“There’s some people who are just very dynamic about social life, and it can be some pretty crazy stuff, but you end up meeting people you like.” – Whit Stillman
No men’s groups or common interest groups in your area that appeal to you? Did you really look closely? Alright, I trust you. If you couldn’t find what you were looking for, then the onus is on you to create the group you would most want to be in. Do that, put up a few flyers advertising your group in your city, and your people will find you.
Remember, Gandhi once said, “Be the men’s group facilitator you want to see in the world.” Or something like that.