With the recent snowfall in the UK, my children are getting more and more excited about Christmas. It’s easy to get caught up in this seasonal cheer and just float along in a cloud of euphoria or else allow oneself to get caught up in stress and debt. But at this time of year I always think of those who have no family and friends with whom to celebrate, for whom Christmas just reinforces their feelings of loneliness.
Recent research findings published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology show that loneliness is contagious. In other words, lonely people tend to attract similarly lonely people. Even if they join small groups, it is likely to be composed of introverted people who prefer to retreat within, so it ends up making them feel more lonely. Lonely people act as a ‘downer’ on others, causing them in turn to behave in less affirming ways. And everyone ends up being grumpy and hating this season, when they feel they have to make an effort and pretend to be friendly and loving to everybody.
What a set of Scrooges we’ve become! I think the message should be: even if it is an effort, make friends with an extrovert, with a person who does not feel lonely, with someone who has lots of friends. It may be trying, it may be annoying, at this time of year it may feel like more of a hassle than it’s worth to attend all those repetitive Christmas parties… and you can feel lonely in a crowd. Go through the motions and who knows….You may well meet a few special people and discover you are even enjoying yourself. Heaven forbid, you may even start enjoying the festive season!
Merry Christmas everyone, happy Hannukah, Shinnen omedetoo and have a great start to the New Year!