When I look back on the time in my life when I felt the most isolated, the most lost, the least connected, and the most unhappy, there is one glaring fact: I wasn't doing anything. Sure, I had a job, and a house, and my husband and I ate out a couple times a week, but beyond that, nothing. Not together, not with friends.
Partly, I had left a huge family in NJ to move to Indiana, and I was still mourning the loss of that support network. But I never made an effort to build a new one. But even without that support network, I was still able to go out and do things, even on my own. I was of such low self-esteem however, that I wouldn't. Paradoxically, once I did start venturing out (on my own) to do things, my self-esteem rose and I was able to do more and more things, and eventually, my husband even joined in.
Once I started to get out and do things: visit our very lovely art museum: the IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art), attend Meetup.com events, make friends, etc., I found that my life gained a richness it had been lacking. Research actually shows that people who go out and experience things (Peterson, Park, and Seligman, The Journal of Happiness Studies, pp. 25-41, volume 6, number 5, March 2005) are more happy and experience more 'life satisfaction'! (And, yes, I am absolutely tickled that there is such a thing as a 'Journal of Happiness Studies', I kind of want to order it.)
As always, I like to leave you with some practical tips on getting out and doing things:
Think of what you're interested in (coffee? wine? hiking? meditation?, Dungeons & Dragons?) and you'll find a group related to that subject. You'll find people getting together to do and discuss what they like. You may even make some friends this way! There are also groups for people who are new to an area, recently divorced, new parents, etc. Look through the staggering number of groups meeting in your area and be amazed and inspired!
2. Join volunteer groups and get happy while you do good
There are hundreds of volunteer groups out there looking for people to do things for them. Think of what you can do (write? paint? read? answer phones?) and do that. Again, there's that possibility you may also make friends in the process!
3. Join industry groups
Are you a marketer? An engineer? A doctor? Join an industry group and attend some events. They might be boring, or you might really enjoy them. The key is trying. At least you know you'll have something to talk about.
4. Plan events
Are you always waiting around for people to do things? Do you find yourself saying, "Nobody wants to do anything!", "My friends are boring!"? Take the onus upon yourself to plan something. Evite.com is free, fast and easy. Set up a walk, set up a movie night, whatever. Sometimes you have to take the responsibility to start something. Maybe once your friends see how fun it is to get out and do things, they'll be inspired to plan events, too.
Have any other suggestions? Share them in the comments section!