Opinion The Expat Issue

All alone? You’re not the only one.

Studies have shown that rates of loneliness and depression have more than doubled since the 1980s.

Humans are, by nature, social animals, and one of our basic human needs is to feel that we ‘belong’. Yet in this day and age, society is rapidly changing in a way that blatantly disregards this need.

Many of us live in single-occupancy houses and are often far away from our families. Our reliance on technology to shop, work, and socialize via our mobile devices isolates us. Work routines place us at the mercy of clock time, workaholism is worn as a badge of honour, and any semblance of a balanced life is out the window.

That is when burnout and mental exhaustion kick in. There is a decreased sense of satisfaction, and our internal monologue is flooded with thoughts like ‘I feel lonely’, ‘I feel a lack of connection’, ‘my relationships are so superficial and less rewarding’, and ‘I feel like I don’t fit in’. What this results in is a completely disintegrated society and a rise in depression and isolation.

In our current world, it is valid to be concerned about social connection and isolation.

If you are struggling with isolation, guess what? You are not alone!

In fact, studies have shown that rates of loneliness and depression have more than doubled since the 1980s and that isolation is a growing global epidemic. So how can we curb the effects of these social issues on our mental and physical health?

1. Stop complaining and start living. 

No one wants to be around a complainer. We complain and ruminate in negativity way too much, and it takes away our time to be creative, spontaneous, adventurous, and fun.

Build an awesome attitude towards life, and don’t give yourself the chance to dwell on situations you can’t change. Make the most of your day, and shift towards better things that actually add value and fulfilment to your life.

You always have a choice: either you complain and become overwhelmed with negativity or choose to pick yourself up and change your circumstance.

2. Become emotionally self-reliant.

It is so important to depend on yourself to be happy. Stop looking for happiness in others, and learn to create it yourself. The key to doing so is to get comfortable being on your own.

Start creating new experiences, and explore your potential. Push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and start to live like a tourist. Break the usual routine, and do something new. Whether it is exploring new places or any activity that draws creativity from you and teaches you about yourself, it will be beneficial. ?

3. Attitude is everything.

If you have a negative attitude about life, you will not enjoy it no matter how amazing it is. Never underestimate the power of negativity to find a downside to the most amazing things in the world! With a negative attitude, you could be lying on the most beautiful beach in the world, still complaining about something so insignificant.

The truth is negativity is not going to change a thing in your life. Instead, learn to reframe and adapt to life situations. What this means is having the willingness to learn and make adjustments in your behaviour that create positive and productive results. This requires you to continuously challenge yourself to grow into becoming the best version of yourself.

4. Cultivate authenticity, empathy, and compassion.

Too often, I hear that there is not enough authenticity and kindness in the world. But I challenge you to be the change you wish to see in the world. This is so cliché, but it could not be more relevant to our world today. We hide behind the mask of perfection, and we try to maintain a perfect image and lead perfect lives. But guess what? Real life is not perfect!

Life is what happens behind the scenes, every single day. It’s our problems, our moods, issues we struggle with, our insecurities, and our pain. Real life is the issues we hide behind our smiles and social media profiles. So, take off the mask of perfection that you wear, be more open, and cultivate more connection towards others. The more authentic and kind you are, the more you allow others around you to be the same. ?

5. Be the best version of you possible.

Close your eyes, and imagine the best version of you possible; now work on becoming that every day. Too often, we undermine ourselves and live mediocre lives, but don’t shy away from stepping fully into your power and strength every single day.

That is the kind of energy you need to live a truly empowered life. Be that person who walks into a room and radiates so much positive energy that people want to know exactly how you do it. ?

6. Finally, stop thinking about yourself so much, and start thinking about the world!

Go out there and make an effort to make the world a better place. There are many issues in the world that could be tackled with a little bit of effort from each one of us, and the smallest acts of kindness will make a huge difference. Only with the realization of your own potential and confidence in your own abilities will we be able to build a better world.

So do me a favour: let go of all that is holding you back, and THRIVE.

Shaden Bolbol is a Palestinian-American life coach, public speaker, and presenter living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.