A New York psychotherapist has called loneliness one of the leading problems of our time. Researchers in the United States, Finland and Sweden found that loneliness ranks right up there with smoking as a health hazard and that people with strong social support networks are half as likely to die prematurely as those without. Overcoming loneliness can be an important goal indeed.

But what is loneliness? Loneliness is a lack of companionship and a feeling of isolation. Both young people and the elderly frequently suffer from it. That The elderly, who may experience “empty nest syndrome” and may even have lost a spouse, suffer from loneliness may seem unremarkable, but that young people suffer from loneliness may come as a surprise. But young people, especially those leaving home to go to school, are entering an important period of transition. They find that they can no longer rely on the social support system of their family and must meet new people.

Shy people may particularly suffer from loneliness. They have a harder time meeting people, striking up a conversation or keeping one going. They often have a harder time making friends. Plus, they may suffer from anxiety when around others.

Happiness does not always mean being surrounded by friends. Frat parties, despite their seemingly carefree atmosphere, can actually I quite a bit of loneliness. After all, why would partiers need to rely so heavily on alcohol? Indeed, there are joys in solitude -- curling up with a good book comes to mind. The great writer Henry David Thoreau reveled in his solitude.

Still, the dangers of severe loneliness should not be underestimated. so what to do about it? Try following the three step plan for overcoming loneliness in three weeks.

1. To beat loneliness, get busy and get involved in activities you enjoy. Professor of psychiatry Danilo Ponce of the University of Hawaii interviewed 3000 people over 16 years And concluded that non-lonely people are active people. Active people are so busy they have no time to think about loneliness.

2. Get rid of false beliefs. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Remember that even the most seemingly outgoing people may often feel lonely inside, even when “whooping it up” at a party. False bravado can often mask inner feelings of loneliness.

3. When around any group of people, push aside any feelings of loneliness and look for someone who appears as lonely as you. Strike up a conversation with someone who seems lost. If you get a cold fish response, so what? Strike up a conversation with someone else.

An important key to making this a success is remembering peoples names. You may strike up a conversation with a lot of people. Imagine how impressive it is to those people if, three weeks later you meet them again in another situation and you remember their names! It shows you’re interested in them. It shows that you think they’re important. A lot of people have trouble remembering names, but this is an extremely useful skill to cultivate.

Follow these steps and you’ll make definite progress in overcoming loneliness in a short time.

Author's Bio: 

Visit the Internet Shyness FAQ at Shy FAQ for more answers about shyness, and also obtain a FREE ebook, How to Remember People's Names; the Master Key to Success and Popularity. Tim Arends also offers his complete popularity and overcoming shyness system at Shy Facts This article may be republished in any newsletter, ezine or website, provided this message is included.