Commentary by Lorene Burkhart
It’s easy to find yourself doing the same things, seeing the same people and watching the same television shows. It takes some effort to push yourself into new patterns. Why bother? Research shows that exposing yourself to new people and experiences is great for your physical and mental well-being.
What can we do? Start by simply introducing yourself when you are in a new setting. When I moved to Carmel from downtown Indianapolis, my personal and social contacts were no longer near where I lived. I began to switch my memberships – Rotary and arts organizations – to the Carmel area. I made an effort to become acquainted with the residents of my retirement community. They make it easy by offering a variety of activities and a welcoming committee.
Several years ago, after becoming single, I started a Single Pals group online. I invited several of my single friends, and then they invited their friends. We had about 30 on the list ranging from those in their 30s to their 80s. The only criteria was to be single, and the purpose of the group was to have someone to do things with – movies, dinner out, parties at members’ homes and support for each other. We even had a gourmet dinner group. It was an easy way to meet several new friends.
A recent study found that nearly half of Americans have three or fewer close friends. Like most things in life, making the effort pays dividends. Loneliness is not a healthy companion.