Loneliness combines depressive and anxious features arising from isolation or a lack of companionship. The young and mobile have abundant opportunities to seek social connections. However, many elderly and disabled people must live in social isolation.
Society values the tradition of marriage, and the cohabitation of chosen mates with a shared commitment. But committed unions are constantly challenged by selfishness, stress, disharmony in values, and the difficulty of compromise. One may certainly be lonely even when surrounded by other people.
Loneliness should not be confused with aloneness. Many people are well-adjusted outliers, comfortable in their choice of simple aloneness. Their freedom and independence are discouraged and resented by the larger culture. They’re not aloof, isolated, and remote or disengaged, but simply resist pressure to conform, socialize, and marry. They may feel that some relationships exploit their devotion or compassion. They find meditative opportunities to grow and attain peace—through dreaming and thinking in solitude.
When alone, you take full responsibility for the consequences of your actions. You make informed choices of directions and risks, without risk to others. When living alone, there are no traditional role expectations. There is no required give or take; no tension associated with shared food, work, or finances. No sense of being suppressed, oppressed, or trapped. No compromise of standards. No visual or aural distraction by others. No necessary adjustments of natural rhythms or cycles. No deprivation of physical or meditative space. No constant concern for the health, comfort, safety, and well-being of another. The benefits of a solitary life are simplicity, control, order, predictability, freedom, and contentment.
If lonely, look within to identify the sources of your feelings and to understand yourself. Overcome your reluctance to interact with others. Find quiet ways to give of yourself—ways to translate your compassion into actions on behalf of others. You have opportunities to pursue their rights and well-being, and to contribute to a better world.
You thus have the power to alleviate your loneliness.