Be a Light in a Lonely World


Loneliness affects both emotional and physical health. Loneliness increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, premature death, as well as depression, anxiety, and dementia.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General

What drives health, happiness and fulfillment in life?

Hint: it’s not stuff, money, titles, positions or fame. Granted, these things help (until they don’t!). In case after case, what floats to the top as most important at the end of one’s life? Relationships. The good news? We do not have to wait until the end of our lives to start building relationships!

The U.S. Surgeon General highlights loneliness as a public health epidemic, impacting 50% of American adults. (And even higher for college, high school and middle schoolers!) The consequences of loneliness extend beyond personal well-being, affecting performance in various aspects of life from personal health to wellness and longevity. 

Let’s put this in perspective. Have you ever felt lonely in a crowd? In a marriage? In the middle of a job? While scrolling through social media?

If we’re honest, the answer is YES!


spread love wherever you go

– mother teresa

Feeling lonely or socially disconnected not only impacts our health, but also impacts how we perform at work, in school and in other life and civic activities. When we feel socially disconnected we are less creative, less engaged, less tied to the work/project/assignment, and it significantly depletes our productivity.

A more connected life and workplace is NOT “soft stuff.”  We all have a need for three kinds of connection in life: intimate, relational/plutonic  and collective.  

Meaningful intimate, plutonic and collective connections enhance our performance, resilience, and overall life satisfaction. Humans are inherently wired for all three of these connections. The truth is, we all want to be seen, heard, and understood.

So what can you do?

Here are 4 suggestions to help you advance your connections for the next 30 days.

1. build your own moai:

Okinawa, Japan is a Blue Zone, a place in the world where people live to be healthy/well centenarians. One of the common characteristics of Blue Zones is engaging in a healthy and connected social life. A Moai is a tradition in Okinawa, it is a small community of 3-5 who are interested, committed and invested in each others lives over the long-term.

Build a tribe/community/Moai of 3-4 friends who are willing to engage, invest and give presence to each other on a consistent basis through online meetings, text, phone, and in person connections.  A Moai is a community within which you can show up as your authentic self and together you:

Test ideas
Reinvent yourselves
Celebrate the highs
Receive a life line in the lows
Get a push when you’re stuck

Be a catalyst and think about WHO you’d want in your Moai. Choose your Moai with great intention and keep in mind you become the average of the group you spend most of your time with.

For more information and inspiration on how to build a Moai, listen to Dr. Vivek Murthy and his Moai share their secrets here.

2. listen for signs of exhaustion:

Acknowledge the strain of constant demands for you and for people around you.

Are you pouring into work, others and feeling empty? What do you need to do to pour back into yourself?

Is it more time to reflect, read, journal, listen to enriching podcasts? Is it getting outside more to refresh and take in some vitamin D? Is it reaching out to a distant friend? Is it engaging in the practice of “visiting,” simply reconnecting with a friend to catch up, laugh and decompress?

Think! What should you SUBTRACT from your life for the next 29 days? Do it.

Is there anything you want to ADD to your life for the next 29 days? Commit one day at a time and give yourself grace. If you slip, restart and begin again.

Dare to set boundaries for a healthier work/life balance. To whom and what in your life, should you boldly say, “YES” and/or “NO?” Commit to doing so with confidence, clarity and consistency.

Hold yourself accountable to your boundaries. Boundaries are not for others to obey, they are yours and yours alone to uphold and live by.

3. Volunteer, it spikes happiness:

Volunteering, serving and helping others kindles happiness and expands your network and community.

Not only does volunteering provide us with a greater perspective of the world, but it also provides us with the opportunity to connect with others and the world around us. Volunteering positively impacts and shifts our feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Volunteering enriches our sense of connection to people who have common interests and passions.

Researchers at the London School of Economics found, the more people volunteer, the happier they become.  And for those of us who volunteer weekly our “very happy” meter increases by 16% —a hike in happiness equivalent to having an income of  $75,000–$100,000.

4. do a 5x5x1:

For 5 days connect with 5 people and engage in a “One-a-Day Challenge.” For the next five days, either tell, call, text or email one of the following to five people you care about.

  1. Share Gratitude
  2. Show Support
  3. Ask for help

Start now… Just do it! Take 30 seconds right now and reach out through phone, text or email to one person and share support for something going on in their life. Once you press send… Realize you just shed some light in an otherwise lonely world!

As we each take a collective step deeper into 2024, embrace these 4 challenges as your attempt to increase connection, health and wellness in the midst of a lonely world.

Cheers to a resilient and fulfilling year ahead!

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