Tag Archives: unhappiness

7 Types of Loneliness (and Why It Matters)

One major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a common and important obstacle to consider.

To be happy, we need intimate bonds; we need to be able to confide, we need to feel like we belong, we need to be able to get and give support. In fact, strong relationships are key — perhaps the key — to a happy life.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

It seems to me that there are several types of loneliness. Of course, not everyone experiences loneliness in the situations described — for instance, not everyone wants a romantic partner. But for some people, the lack of certain kinds of relationships brings loneliness.

Once we’ve pinpointed the particular kind of loneliness we’re experiencing, it may be easier to spot ways to address it.

Here are some types I’ve identified — what have I overlooked?

7 Types of Loneliness

1. New-situation loneliness

You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely.

2. I’m-different loneliness

You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition.

3. No-sweetheart loneliness

Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person.

4. No-animal loneliness

Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives.

5. No-time-for-me loneliness

Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started  family, so that your social scene has changed.

6. Untrustworthy-friends loneliness

Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. You’re “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends.

7. Quiet-presence loneliness

Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room, or reading on the sofa.

If you read this list, and you’re thinking, “Yes, I do feel lonely — so what the heck do I do about it?” you might find this post useful: Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness. Or this: Feeling Lonely? Consider Trying These 7 Strategies. (These posts are different from each other, even though the titles sound similar.)

It’s important to realize why we feel lonely, because only then can we see how we might address it. If you’re no-time-for-me lonely, for instance, maybe a solution would be to work with people on a project, where you’d be doing an endeavor together, on something you’ve all made time for. My mother once noted — and I think it’s very true — it’s easier to make friends when you’re working on a project together.

Loneliness is a major factor in unhappiness, so it’s an important area to tackle, if you’re working on making yourself happier.

Want to learn more? When I researched loneliness, I was very surprised by what I found, which I wrote about here: Some counter-intuitive facts about loneliness.

If you want to read more deeply on the subject of loneliness, I highly recommend two books: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily White, Lonely, a memoir about the author’s own experiences and research into loneliness. Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

One of the keys — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people. The lack of these bonds, even temporarily, is a major happiness stumbling block.

Have you found any good ways to understand and deal with loneliness?

Podcast 104: Have a “Life Story Conversation,” Ideas for Travel Beasts, and Dealing with the Emotional Toll of the News.

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

We’re coming up on our second anniversary of the show! To celebrate, we want to do an episode of highlights from the previous year. So if you have a favorite try-this-at-home, a great before-and-after story of something you tried, a favorite funny moment, let us know. Email us at podcast@gretchenrubin.com or call 77-HAPPY-336.

Try This at Home: Have a “life story conversation.” If you want to listen to the episode of The Onward Project podcast Radical Candor where they discuss this idea, check out episode 5.

Happiness Hack: Mary suggests, “When clothes are in bad shape, so that I can’t give them away, I pack them, and wear them one last time on the trip, and then leave them behind.” This is an especially great tip for under-buyers.

Happiness Stumbling Block: The news. So many people have emailed and called to say, “How do I manage the emotional toll of the news?” It’s a big question.

Elizabeth mentions Sarah’s Facebook group: #OurFirst100Days.

Demerit: Elizabeth’s battle with the game Candy Crush continues. Have you tried unsuccessfully to delete a soul-destroying app?

Gold Star: How I love the New York City subway system, especially the new stops on the Q line.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #104

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

HAPPIER listening!

Podcast 103: Pick Your Moment, How to Be Happier During a Tough Time, and a Deep Dive into #Happier2017.

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

We’re coming up on our second anniversary of the show! To celebrate, we want to do an episode of highlights from the previous year. So if you have a favorite try-this-at-home, a great before-and-after story of something you tried, a favorite funny moment, let us know. Email us at podcast@gretchenrubin.com or call 77-HAPPY-336.

Try This at Home: Pick your moment. When we mindfully choose the moment for a challenging conversation or task, we do better. Easier said than done.

Happiness Hack: If the traditional Valentine’s day isn’t working for you, celebrate a different relationship in your life — maybe your relationship with yourself, with friends, with siblings.

Deep Dive: We take a look at the #Happier2017 project on Instagram. We had so much fun with this — we enjoyed posting our own photos, and even more, seeing what other people posted.

Listener Question: Clare asks, “I’m trying to get pregnant, and it’s hard not to feel a pang when I’m around people who are pregnant or when I see newborn babies. How do I stay happy?”

Demerit: I get a repeat demerit for not making an appointment to get my hair cut.

Gold Star: Elizabeth gives her seven-year-old Jack a gold star for being “Star of the Week” at school, and presenting in front of his class.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out NatureBox. Start snacking healthy, with delicious snacks made with simple, high-quality ingredients. Go to naturebox.com/happier, and get 50% off your first order.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

And check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #103

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

HAPPIER listening!

A Happiness Lesson from Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”

Today is Groundhog Day, and that reminds me of one of my favorite movies…yes, Groundhog Day!

In Groundhog Day, the main character Phil Connors (Bill Murray) — a nasty, selfish guy — keeps living the same day, over and over, and repeating the same mistakes, day after day after day, until he learns to be a wiser, more loving person. It’s a brilliant, hilarious, deep movie.

This year, February 2 is Groundhog Day, and the occasion has made me reflect of the way I keep making the same happiness mistakes, over and over.

Elizabeth and I have talked about this on the Happier podcast. Now that we’ve been recording episodes for two years, we’re starting to repeat certain demerits that we’ve given ourselves. Because even when we know we’re doing something that’s not good for our happiness, sometimes we still do it.

I’m very crabby with my family when we’re traveling, even when I know it doesn’t help.

I leave my clothes in a heap in a corner of the bedroom, even though I know that the clutter gets on my nerve.

I procrastinate about making phone calls, even though I know I’d be happier if I just crossed that task off my list.

I “snap” at my family, even when I know that my bad mood puts everyone else in a bad mood too.

Etc., etc.

I get so tired of my own faults, my own limitations! I wish I could vanquish them, once and for all. But instead, it’s like Groundhog Day.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m so happy to eat a low-carb diet. I used to think about sweets too much — it was so boring and draining. “One, two, three?” “Now, later?” “Is this too much?’

Now that I don’t eat that kind of food, all that noise is gone.

I wish I could solve other issues the same way — to just be done with them. I know that as an Upholder, it’s probably easier for me to make certain kinds of changes than it is for other people, but still, it’s tough.

But I remind myself that just like Phil Connors, every day is a new day for me to act in a way that will make me (and also other people) happier.

Podcast 102: Tame the “Travel Beast,” Find the Missing Puzzle Piece, and a Clever Solution to Dirty Mugs in the Office Sink.

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

It’s hard to believe — we’re coming up on our second anniversary of the show! To celebrate, just as we did for our first anniversary show, we want to do an episode of highlights from the previous year. So if you have a favorite try-this-at-home, a great before-and-after story of something you tried, a favorite funny moment, let us know. Email us at podcast@gretchenrubin.com or call 77-HAPPY-336.

Try This at Home: Find the missing puzzle piece from your life — the missing tool, item, or activity that’s missing.

Happiness Hack: In episode 95, we talked about how shared spaces can tend to get messy. Our listener Hannah recounted how her boss gave everyone in the office a personalized mug, so it was obvious who was (or wasn’t) taking care of their mugs.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Both of us turn into the “travel beast” — we get cranky, we panic that we’ve lost something, we hurry everyone along. If you have solutions to offer, please let us know.

Listener Question: Heather asks, “How do you stop Obliger-rebellion?” If you don’t know whether you’re an Upholder, a Questioner, an Obliger, or a Rebel, take the quiz here. My book The Four Tendencies comes out in September — don’t worry, that’s not the real cover.

Demerit: Elizabeth is procrastinating about moving her clothes back into her newly renovated closet.

Gold Star: While in Havana, I stayed out late! Probably, most people wouldn’t give themselves a gold star for staying out until 2:00 a.m. at a bar, but for me, that’s gold-star territory.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

And check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

HAPPIER listening!