Louise Hawkley, PhD, says we should think of loneliness not as a state but as a motivation to get social. Here’s how:

Get out and about. You don’t have to be best friends with someone to benefit from interaction. Amity Brown, who is separated from her husband, takes walks around her neighborhood, smiling at people she passes. “When I started getting to know the neighborhood and the people around me, I felt like part of a community,” she says.

Be selective about making friends. Hawkley points out that if you’re desperate for relationships, you may be willing to tolerate unacceptable treatment. Now that Brown is feeling more stable, she says, “I’m more careful when I choose my friends to make sure they’re low-drama.”

Stay positive. Lonely people tend to expect rejection, which makes it more likely to happen. Social cognitive therapy can help people reframe their thoughts about how others see them.

 

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