During the holiday season most of us will see friends and family and enjoy all the warmth and cheer that goes with pleasant company. Yet, there are thousands of our fellow Americans, some right next door or living close by, who will be alone. I have a personal understanding of loneliness. There are times when I sorely miss my wife, who after fifty years of being my partner, and my friend, was taken from me.

I manage quite well as I approach a century of life on this small blue planet. I wake every day glad to be alive and ready to meet my challenges with hope and anticipation.

When I was younger, there were times when I was alone. I felt lonely because I didn’t know how to reach out to others. I have learned that it takes to make connections that bind us to others.

I shall tell you a secret: Loneliness plays no part in one who is busy. Get busy with something for which you can feel a passion; painting, volunteer work, writing, quilting, being part of an organization, learning something new. Write about your loneliness. Once on paper your feeling of being alone will lose its venom. There are a million things out there for you to build on and enjoy. It’s up to you to find a fit. When you do, go at that calling with all your will and all your spirit.

Our mind has two parts; a conscious and an unconscious. Our conscious sees a blue sky on a spring morning, smells a flower’s fragrance, feels the touch of a friend when they take your hand. Our unconscious is the part of our mind that gives us dreams when we sleep, allows us to breathe and our heart to beat without thinking, or walk without the need to tell our feet to move. William James, the psychologist, wrote, ‘Feeling follows action.’ If you act a certain way, your mind will feel that same way. Your unconscious is a dumb brute creature. It tends to believes whatever it hears, sees, or feels. It trusts your physical actions. It accepts them as a true reflection of what you should feel. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. ’Act a certain way, by what you say and what you do, and you will feel that way. Act enthusiastic, or happy, about an idea, or a project, and, lo and behold, your unconscious mind is fooled into believing you are enthusiastic, or happy, or no longer quite so lonely. You will become happy or enthusiastic or less lonely.

I have cited some practical solutions for loneliness; try to apply them and you may be astonished.

Your telephone is a life line. Use it. Call someone you know, not to tell them how lonely you are, or about your aches and pains, but to listen. Draw them out to tell you what they are doing and how they are meeting the day. When you do, two things happen. They will feel better, and you will feel less alone.

Solve your problems one at a time. Taking on more than one problem at a time, makes each problem appear too great to crack. Hit your problems head-on to solve them. The very act of solving your problems will give you strength and confidence. When night comes, you will sleep better because you have made a move to rid yourself of the poisons that follows procrastination. Make sure you rest and sleep well. When you are rested, you will find greater strength and courage to face tomorrow’s problems.

Look ahead to tomorrow and whatever new challenge you meet. Accept the changes that time brings to each one of us. Trust in yourself. You are stronger than you think you are. You are NOT alone. Know this universe has been out there, moving majestically through the eons, with all of its wonders and mysteries for sixteen billion years, more or less. Our lives, with all our hopes and dreams and disappointments, are but flyspecks of time.

While you and I are living a part of this wonderful mystery of life, it is our absolute obligation to make the most of every day and every minute, to love yourself by staying healthy, meet life with courage, and, most of all, care and help others when you can. What we do for others is the only way we leave our mark.

That is my recipe for a better life… and a brighter holiday season.