Feeling Lonely? The Solution We All Forgot

New Years two years ago, I was driving home from a restaurant with my wife and two kids. A studious furrow creased my forehead as I sat in deep thought. My wife, taking notice of my expression, asked the question.

“What are you thinking so hard about, Hun?”

I was silent another moment, trying to compile my thoughts into a verbal expression; a brief and direct message because they were important thoughts, the kind of thoughts that might alter our lives completely.

“I spent my twenties finding out everything I can’t do,” I said to her. “I am going to spend my thirties being wildly successful in those things I can do.”

Unbeknownst to me at that time, I already had wonderful success in my life. I just did not realize it yet.

Growing up as a Millenial, a great deal of focus was placed on my future career. From the earliest grades in school I was asked what I was going to be when I grew up (I usually said Superman, and that has not really changed since). To help us make a decision, we brought our parents in to tell us about their jobs.

A great deal of importance was placed on what college to attend from elementary school. “You got to get good grades, so you can get into a good school,” was often reiterated by teachers.

“Chase your dreams,” was even put into the context of chasing after my dream job.

Even feminist movements campaigning for “equal opportunity” did so in the sense of career opportunities. Although I am not a woman, the messaging placed a great career as the most important achievement in life.

What I thought of success as a twenty-nine year-old man on that drive home was exactly what I had always thought of success; a dream job that pays well. Where having a good job and one that I can enjoy, as the sole provider of my household, is important, it is not the most important thing.

The Campaign to End Loneliness has produced a new study in which it has found loneliness to be a “silent epidemic” that claims more lives than obesity. What is the suggested solution? Managers at work need to create a more social atmosphere at the office (place hand on forehead and shake it slowly in disappointment).

From one Millenial to the world; a Millenial who has placed a career as the crowning achievement in life; a Millenial who chased after that elusive dream career only to have all hopes shattered for trivial reasons; a Millenial who has had it shoved down his throat all his life that a career is “my life’s work”; from this Millenial to all reading this article, the problem is NOT an anti-social office. The problem is TOO MUCH EMPHASIS is placed on the office.

What I realize now that I did not realize on that car ride home is that life is much more than a career. Life is about relationships. The most important relationships in my life were and are flourishing.

I have a wife that I adore and she adores me. I have three beautiful children that fills my home with the joyful and energetic atmosphere only children seem to bring. I have two great parents, two brothers, and two sisters that I am close to. I have two life-long friends that I still talk to regularly, even though we are hundreds and thousands of miles apart.

Most importantly, I have developed a wonderful relationship with my Father in Heaven. Because of this relationship, I know I am much more than a construction worker. I am a spirit son born of an Eternal Father with a glorious eternal future, if I will keep the covenants I have made with Him.

The problem is we have an entire generation, my generation, that believes career is more important than our relationships with family, friends, and God.

The old American dream of marrying young and having a house full of kids is preached as foolishness.

“Honor thy father and thy mother” is a laughable concept.

We believe God is dispensable because we understand a few laws of nature by that process of observation we call science. Therefore, most never try to engage God in any meaningful way.

No wonder we live in a world of loneliness. We have dispensed of those most important relationships for a glamorous career and flashy car. We have, in a sense, sold our happiness for a bowl of porridge. The only way to get it back, to eradicate loneliness, is to engage those most meaningful relationships again.

 

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