Don't want to feel lonely? Read this...

As ironic as it may sound, sometimes the surest way to feeling lonely is by being around others.

The late and great Robin Williams once said:

"I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone." 

Indeed, while all of us have friends and family members who can certainly help cure our loneliness, there are other people we come across who only serve to exacerbate the problem. That could be a neighbor who always cracks jokes at your expense, siblings who talk to each other at family events but always seem to leave you out in the cold, acquaintances who seem to click with everyone in the room but you, and so forth.

The chief problem is that we shouldn't depend on others to help us overcome our loneliness in the first place. That's setting yourself up for disappointment, as there will always be times where people will not be able to come to your aid.

While there's nothing wrong in seeking the company of others -- a partner, a friend, a coworker -- some people can't bear the thought of being by themselves, which I find alarming.

There are so many solitary activities one can enjoy on their own, from reading and writing to listening to music and watching movies. What's more, sometimes we just need to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the outside world and be alone with our thoughts.

I've actually experienced what Robin Williams describes in his quote -- countless times. I have been to parties and family get-togethers where I either don't know a soul or everyone seems to be talking about things I just can't relate to. I feel lonelier in such a situation -- surrounding by many people in a noisy environment -- than at home by myself quietly reading a good book.

At least when you're by yourself, you can give yourself undivided attention. At a party, you might give your attention to someone else, only to have him or her not respond in kind.

Moreover, people needn't confuse being alone with being lonely. Being alone is something you may do deliberately -- to get fresh air, grieve over a loss, recharge after a hard day at work -- whereas loneliness is usually an unpleasant state people wish to break out of. In essence, being alone doesn't necessarily mean one is lonely.

I hope reading this post has made one thing clear: Depending on people won't always cure loneliness; if anything, it can worsen the problem. Before picking up the phone to call a friend or relative, spend some time alone doing something you love or have wanted to learn how to do, like shooting hoops in the backyard or playing the guitar. Don't underestimate the positive impact that spending time by yourself can have on you. You may find you enjoy it as much -- if not more so -- than being around other people.

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