Is Being Smart Making You Lonely?
It is paradoxical that even working on a floor full of people you can feel lonely. It’s equally unsurprising that many solo entrepreneurs or small business owners who work independently can feel isolated. Myth tells us it’s supposed to be lonely at the top but what it doesn’t tell us is that more than 40% of working people deal with feeling lonely according to a recent study. That kind of negative vibe makes achievement even more challenging as anyone who has ever been depressed can attest.
What might be most surprising is that in work situations there is an inverse relationship between the amount of education a working person has and their likelihood to feel lonely. Those with Masters degrees are lonelier than those with Bachelors degrees who are lonelier than people with no college. That brings us to why. Perhaps the focus on trying to match self-image expectations with the complexity and winding path to success initiates introspection that actualizes a sense of isolation. Is it possible that more educated people think too much?
No one should suggest that having uneducated workers, or not seeking to make yourself a little smarter every day is a sure-fire recipe for happiness and productivity. We have, however, re-positioned education and an expectation for self-worth. Our country has a dearth of skilled tradespeople. Having been indoctrinated to believe that one must get a college degree to have new work force skills and appropriate income many have missed out on the satisfaction of working a trade where the money can be quite good, and the happiness and sense of success can be quite high.
That opportunity may not make much difference if you are already sitting at your desk, staring at your diploma, sighing and wondering why you feel lonely. One thing that is clear is that being lonely is not about whether or not you are surrounded by people or even if you are regularly interacting with them. Loneliness most often stems from a lack of connection with people. Whether it is intellectual or emotional having strong connections with people helps you feel communal. Whether you are the boss, an entry level worker or an independent contractor if you want to feel less lonely you don’t need to become less smart, just better connected.
3 Lonely-Busting Tips
Communication – When you communicate are you connecting? If you don’t feel anything in your communications you can’t expect any reward and communication is the straightest path to overcoming loneliness.
- Your computer doesn’t love you so don’t hide behind electronic relationships. Emails and social media have their place but not when it’s a hiding place. If you can call instead of email, do it, if you can talk face to face instead of call, do that. The more efforts we make to have personal communications the more opportunity we have to feel good about the relationship involved in eye to eye, handshake to handshake connections.
- Learn to listen. No doubt you have reasons to communicate and getting quickly to the answer you want or the message you feel you have to give can seem to be a productivity step. Deeper connections come when you really listen, allow appropriate time for empathy and touch (handshakes, pats on the back…yes, it can be a minefield so goodness sake don’t confuse this with inappropriate touching to make another uncomfortable).
- Choose wisely. While you can always make efforts to have connections understanding some will be slight and some significant build connection relationships you can depend on where you might stroll when you feel the lonely draft beginning to breeze. The wrong connections can mean people who suck the life out of you, the complainers, the whiners, the angry zealots. Find positive people who reciprocate a connection and think of it as a candy store. You have a lot of choices but you know where your desires and rewards are.
If the price of success was loneliness and isolation, depression and anxiety I would strongly make the argument you need to redefine your definition of success. Feeling connected to people, whether working or in the non-work spots of your life lets you appreciate the joy of being alive. Misery has no place in the success formula. Loneliness is only tolerable if it is in a brief burst, it is recognized, and we know the pathway out. Following that path is where true success really lies.
(C) 2018 MyEureka Solutions LLC. For more business and success articles go to www.myeurekasolutions.com/thoughts or follow Tom on LinkedIn or @TomFoxTrainer on Twitter.