The loneliness epidemic and how you can help fix it.

America has a loneliness epidemic.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher.”

40% of us. Geez, that makes my heart hurt.

The article goes on to say: “In the workplace, many employees — and half of CEOs — report feeling lonely in their roles.”

Half of all CEOs. Be nice to your CEOs, people.

More from HBR:

“Loneliness is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety. At work, loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity, and impairs other aspects of executive function such as reasoning and decision making. For our health and our work, it is imperative that we address the loneliness epidemic quickly.

Loneliness kills more people than obesity according to this research.

 

So, who can fix this problem that is affecting so many of us?

 

This article actually brought tears to my eyes as I read it. It just hit a nerve. Because I also happen to believe that the workplace can be a big part of the solution to our loneliness epidemic.

A couple of weeks ago, after hearing news of Anthony Bourdains’s death, just days after Kate Spade’s passing, I walked into the Village Grind. I chatted with the team there as they made my favorite coffee. And I reminded them that the tiny little pieces of conversation they have with people each and every day are a part of healing loneliness. I’m not suggesting that Anthony and Kate were lonely — because I have no clue. But when we feel we’re not valued, that our lives don’t matter, we have certainly lost some sort of connection.

You can’t be human and not feel lonely and unneeded at times

But I’m worried about all of us in this social media, technology driven world we’ve created.

At Brains on Fire, we have our heads down a lot. Reading emails. Talking in Slack channels. Writing and designing at our computers. We often complain of too many meetings, but I actually love them (as long as they don’t last too long). Yesterday I had two meetings with clients in the afternoon. Mindful of the Harvard Business Review article, I took extra time to just share a wee bit more. To laugh, relax and really connect. I even left my phone in my car.

And it worked. I walked away feeling much more connected. It was so simple, really.

Living your purpose and creating community is a practice — not a business objective.

So. How can you get closer to the people you serve? What injustices are you fighting together? How often do you really take time to talk and share with your coworkers, partners and your clients?

Our lives will be better if we take the time to really collide and connect with others.

What one thing can you do today to make the world a bit less lonely?



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