Despite the fact that we are more connected than ever loneliness is still a problem in our society. Indeed, it’s such a problem that people are self-reporting that they are lonelier today than decades ago. What can we do about it? We can teach people how to better deal with feelings of loneliness in schools so when they become adults they will know how to grabble with it.
But Holt-Lunstad believes that loneliness-prevention education should not be limited to teaching students how to support others. She also believes that kids should learn early in life how to reframe their own negative responses to social situations. “We’ve all had a situation where you text someone and they don’t respond right away,” she says. “Instead of assuming they’re snubbing you, they’re blowing you off, all of these kinds of negative things that could in turn lead you to respond with nasty comments or become irritated, which is not going to elicit the sort of friendly response you want,” she says, “reframe it as, ‘Perhaps they’re driving.’ ‘Perhaps they’re in a meeting.’ If you’re interpreting others’ social signals as negative, how you behave towards them is more likely to mirror that.” The existing strategies for helping people repackage their thoughts in a more positive way could be easily adapted for a classroom setting.