“But you always look so happy,” I hear from across my vanilla latte at Starbucks. It’s a phrase I’ve heard a million times from a million different people; today, it’s coming from a friend at church.
“Just because I look happy doesn’t mean I am. And sometimes I am happy, but a lot of times, I’m lonely,” I reply; feeling vulnerable and a bit on the defensive.
Ah, the internal struggle of the introvert; needing time alone to recharge my batteries, but feeling terribly lonely at the same time.
This situation begs the question; “Can a person be happy and lonely at the same time?”
I consider myself a generally happy person. Not much in life gets me down. I am blessed to have a lot of good things in my life and I practice gratitude daily as a way to remind myself of all that I have.
But every now and then, the dark cloud of loneliness creeps in. It started this past week at work. I recently started a part-time job at a local card and gift shop. Hey, budding authors have to eat, you know!
One of my duties is to straighten up the cards at the end of the night. As I passed through aisle after aisle of birthday cards for husbands and wives, anniversary cards, retirement cards for good friends, and countless other cards for friends and family members, I could feel the loneliness bug creeping in.
As I was nearing the end of my shift, I thought about going home to my apartment, with no one there to greet me but my beloved three-legged rescue cat, Felix. Felix is good company, but he’s not a great conversationalist.
“But you look so happy,” popped into my head again as I walked the boardwalk on my way home, watching happy vacationers with their families. “I am happy,” I thought, “But I’m also lonely.”
Does this sound like you? Are you both happy and lonely at the same time? I don’t claim to know anything about psychology, but I can tell you what has helped me in those moments of loneliness.
1. Have a few good friends or family members that you can call or text when you’re feeling down.
2. Practice gratitude daily. Take the time to reflect on all the good things you have in life and all the things you have to be grateful for.
3. Learn when to force yourself to get out and interact with others, and when to retreat. Too much forcing can cause unnecessary discomfort; too much retreating can spiral into depression.
4. Avoid the triggers that can bring on loneliness; TV programs, magazines, etc. (or in my case, greeting cards) that cause you to feel lonely.
5. Find meaningful activities to fill your downtime. Volunteer, pick up a hobby, establish a workout routine, etc.
Loneliness isn’t fatal, but it sure isn’t fun either. If you’re feeling the pains of loneliness, I wish you well. And hey, if you don’t have anyone to call or text, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chances are, I’m home feeling lonely too!
Take care of yourself, be nice to yourself, and be well. And until next time – veg in, don’t veg out!
Karen Ann Kennedy’s commitment to wellness and service is at the heart of her life and career. As a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a decorated United States Army veteran, and a longtime Human Resources Director, it is only natural that Karen would launch The Caring Coaching Center, to support others in reaching their health, fitness, and lifestyle goals. As the company’s President, CEO, and “Coach in Chief,” Karen provides individual, group, and corporate health and wellness coaching that is flexible, fun, and free of denial. As Karen likes to say: “Little changes. BIG results!”
Thanks to her studies at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school, Karen is well versed in the importance of nutrition and healthy living. Karen also has extensive experience in compassionately coaching and counseling others through her work in human resources and volunteer management, having worked in this industry for over 20 years.
Karen shares her knowledge and passion for healthy living as a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Known for her bright smile, boundless energy, and approachability, Karen is an in-demand speaker who has presented training programs for many prestigious organizations and schools in the Philadelphia area, including The National Constitution Center, The Urban League of Philadelphia, Constitution High School, Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, The Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, City Year of Greater Philadelphia, and the Upper Darby School District.
Karen is also a decorated veteran of the United States Army, serving her country for eight years including a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, and now residing in Ocean City, New Jersey, Karen offers Caring Coaching to clients nationwide. In addition to coaching, she loves cooking, marathon running, and writing her blog, Carrots Don’t Scream When You Boil Them.
Karen is also the author of Your Best Year Yet! 365 Days of Little Changes that Add Up to Big Results! Available on http://www.amazon.com.