The Dalai Lama reveals why we’re becoming lonelier and what we can do about it

In Inspirational, Mind & Body
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We’re getting lonelier.

A recent survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985.

Mysteriously, loneliness appears most prevalent among millennials. And according to The Dalai Lama, there’s one explanation why.

In an article in the NY Times, The Dalai Lama has said that many people in western countries are feeling lonely because they’re feeling unseeded.

“The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies….

“If you wish to overcome that feeling of isolation and loneliness, I think that your underlying attitude makes a tremendous difference. And approaching others with the thought of compassion in your mind is the best way to do this.”

The stats back this up. In America today, compared with 50 years ago, 3 times as many working-age men are completely outside the work force. This pattern is repeating itself in almost every developed country.

This is not only a negative when it comes to the economy, but also to the human spirit. Feeling unneeded is a huge blow to one’s self-esteem.

So, what can we do to counteract this trend?

According to the Dalai Lama, there are two ways to solve this situation.

“The first answer is not systematic. It is personal. Everyone has something valuable to share. We should start each day by consciously asking ourselves, “What can I do today to appreciate the gifts that others offer me?” We need to make sure that global brotherhood and oneness with others are not just abstract ideas that we profess, but personal commitments that we mindfully put into practice.

Each of us has the responsibility to make this a habit. But those in positions of responsibility have a special opportunity to expand inclusion and build societies that truly need everyone…

“If you wish to overcome that feeling of isolation and loneliness, I think that your underlying attitude makes a tremendous difference. And approaching others with the thought of compassion in your mind is the best way to do this.”

The second answer is more at the society level:

“Leaders need to recognize that a compassionate society must create a wealth of opportunities for meaningful work, so that everyone who is capable of contributing can do so. A compassionate society must provide children with education and training that enriches their lives, both with greater ethical understanding and with practical skills that can lead to economic security and inner peace. A compassionate society must protect the vulnerable while ensuring that these policies do not trap people in misery and dependence.”