Loneliness is a state of mind rather than a measure of how many people you interact with. You can be overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness in a bustling restaurant or a cheering football stadium, in a business meeting or a family gathering, even while having sex. You can feel contented, complete, and at peace with the world deep in a forest far from the nearest human. So what causes feelings of loneliness and how can you overcome them?

Loneliness is really a form of neediness, the feeling of needing some expression of companionship and support that you don't feel you are getting. You feel lonely when the state of your world doesn't appear to be as it should. We are most likely to feel lonely when we have lost companionship that we previously had - a loved one died, left us, or moved away; our family, social group, or employer has rejected us. We feel the contrast between how things are now and how they used to be better. The other cause of loneliness is comparison with the apparently happy social networks of others. Seeing others appearing to enjoy their connections with family, friends, and lovers, we long for those same pleasures.

Comparisons are odious. - Anonymous

Here are ten tips for coping with feelings of loneliness...

1. Focus on the present. Whenever you find yourself longing for the past, Stop. Bring your attention back to the present. You can't go back to high school and be the cheerleader or football hero again. You can't relive the college sorority or fraternity parties. Rather, look to the great opportunities for your life today and tomorrow.

2. Be yourself and be proud of yourself. You aren't the celebrity being hounded by the news media; you aren't the person down the street with a dozen cars parked out front day and night; you aren't anyone but yourself, and that is a wonderful thing. Be happy and proud that you are exactly who you are.

3. Learn to enjoy spending time completely alone. Once you can be comfortable alone, you will defeat your compulsive need for companionship. Take long silent walks in the woods or on the seashore. Consider going for a multi-day hike and sleeping alone under the stars.

4. Know the purpose of your life, and keep busy with activities that support your purpose. When you know that your life is directed toward an important purpose, the support and encouragement of others lessens in significance. It is much harder to feel lonely when you are actively engaged with tasks that further your vision for your life.

5. Be of service to others. Volunteering your time to those less fortunate has a number of benefits. You will feel good about yourself. You will realize that you really are one of the more fortunate people in the world. The bonus is that service organizations attract the kind of people who have the potential of becoming great friends.

6. Find a furry four-legged friend. If you don't already have a cat or dog, rescue one from your local animal shelter.

7. Join groups for the activities, and let the socializing be a bonus. Try a book, bridge, or sailing club; a kayaking, walking, or hiking group. Take lessons. Learn to dance, sing, play a musical instrument.

8. Be physically active. Walk, do Yoga and Qigong, join the gym, try Latin Cardio Dance. The endorphins that exercise generates make you happier, and it's hard to feel lonely when you're happy.

9. Turn on happy music. Find the kind of music that makes you feel happy and turn up the volume. Dance to your music, sing to your music, let your music reverberate within you.

10. Know that your higher power is always with you. You are never alone when you accept that Spirit is always with you and within you. Have a conversation with your higher power today.

Author's Bio: 

Read more of Jonathan's motivational inspirational articles including 7 Secrets of Happy Couples and How to be Happy in Life.

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Jonathan Lockwood Huie, "The Philosopher of Happiness," is author of 100 Secrets for Living a Life You Love and co-author of Simply An Inspired Life.

** May your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself - Jonathan Lockwood Huie **