The Wall Street Journal:
I spend a fair amount of time by myself. One recent day, I worked, read, cleaned my desk, took a walk, made soup and chatted with my best friend on the phone. By evening, I felt productive and content.
Then, for the first time in hours, I checked my phone. There was not one new text, call or email—not even from Groupon. Wasn’t anyone thinking of me?
It got me thinking: How does being alone turn into being lonely?
Some people crave time alone, but experts say occasional feelings of loneliness are a near-universal experience.
Researchers at Brigham Young University studying the correlation between social relationships and mortality did a 2010 meta-analysis of 148 studies encompassing more than 300,000 participants. They found loneliness was as strong a predictor of early death as was alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it was a stronger predictor than obesity or a sedentary lifestyle.
The rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled in the past 30 years, says John T. Cacioppo, a psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, who studies loneliness including analysis of several large studies. These days, he estimates, some 40% of Americans report being lonely, up from 20% in the 1980s.
Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal