Everyone Wants to Be Wanted
The Effects of Chronic Loneliness and How We Can Change It
We've all heard the song. I want you to want me... I need you to need me... I'd love you to love me... I'm begging you to beg me... The song by Gary Jules, though somewhat forgotten in its age, is timeless for, at least, one reason: So many people can relate.
Social isolation, high blood pressure, a decrease in mental capacities, heart disease/stroke, the list goes on. These are all side effects of being chronically lonely. It is estimated that 42.6 million men in America over the age of 45 are experiencing chronic loneliness. It's seen as a growing epidemic.
Chronic loneliness, whether you are just feeling alone or are literally alone, increases the chance of early death by up to 26%. This may sound like a ridiculous statistic, how could something that seems so natural and mundane be so treacherous, but it happens much more often than any of us like to think.
People who suffer from chronic loneliness are more likely to get involved with drugs/alcohol, abusive and unhealthy relationships, suffer from severe health issues such as heart attack or stroke, and commit suicide.
Loneliness can help us along a dark path of some bad choices. The lonely girl who never had a boyfriend in high school finally meets a man who seems interested in her, but she finds out he sells drugs and has gone to prison twice. She is more likely to begin a relationship with this man because he fills a secret void in her heart; I want you to want me.
That being said, there are ways that we, as a community, can help. Doing something as simple and silly as free-hug day once a week at your local superstore or food market could save up to 5 lives. Something as simple as talking to a cashier as she checks you out, being polite and making conversation, could give her the strength to start restoring her faith in people after she was mugged. A simple offer to let someone who only has three things in their hand and seems to be in a rush go in front of your full cart could help him get home to his wife who is sick with cancer sooner.
We don't ever know what strangers are going through. We, as people, tend to roam through life by ourselves. We don't seem to always remember or comprehend that there is life outside of our lives. You never know what someone has gone, or is going, through. We should always be mindful to be courteous and kind to one another. It might just save a life.