Monday, May 13, 2019

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

Loneliness is the poverty of self; 
solitude is the richness of self.
--- May Sarton

Loneliness has become the suffering of our generation. Yet it’s important to note that loneliness and solitude are not the same.

Another way to think about it is that social isolation is objective: if you are physically alone, you are isolated. Loneliness or solitude, however, are subjective. They are emotional states that emerge from how you perceive your social isolation.

Just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, two people can each be physically alone and one can experience a devastating rejection and abandonment by others while the other can feel an ineffable wholeness and oneness with the world independent of—or interdependent with—the other people in their life.

In fact, believe it or not, the same person can feel both in the same day; such is the ephemeral nature of emotions.

This distinction between loneliness and solitude is an age-old, perennial issue human beings have been managing for centuries. Yet thanks to our smartphones and digital devices, we seem to be edging toward a collective loneliness—subjective, negatively experienced isolation—unlike any we have previously experienced

This week, make a commitment to enhance how you engage with others. When you find yourself rushing around and experiencing the superficial conversations that induce loneliness, take some time to slow down and reflect on how you approach your relationships. Then reengage with others in a more meaningful way.

Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through purchases, click here.

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