Existential Psychology

Unhappiness And Existential Isolation

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It’s as easy to feel isolated in a crowded room as it is to feel isolated alone in a cave in the middle of the desert. When it comes to beating back painful existential isolation and the resulting deep unhappiness it’s not just about the frequency of interactions with other human beings, it’s also about the quality of the connection with these people.

The above might sound obvious but most people who are unhappy don’t make the conscious connection between their unhappiness and their sense of existential isolation. Rather than focusing their time and energy on improving the quality of their human relationships they try other routes to escape their unhappiness. They imagine if they can amass enough money, power, or prestige their unhappiness will disappear. Or if they take enough drugs their unhappiness will disappear. Or if they focus on their careers their unhappiness will disappear.

But those solutions do little to combat existential isolation. Often they do the opposite, they widen the gulf of existential isolation, making people feel even more alone than they did before. A real sense of community, of human relationships defined by equality where everyone involved feels like they’re more or less on the same plane, in other words friendship, is the only surefire way to reduce existential isolation and thereby increase happiness.

If you’ve become unhappy in your life stop wasting your time with the false leads of money, power, prestige, drugs, career, etc. because while these entities aren’t not necessarily good or bad in and of themselves they do very little to combat existential isolation and therefore very little to increase happiness. Instead ask yourself about the quality of your various human connections and the frequency of contact with these connections. Are you part of a community, do you have people who feel comfortable being themselves around you and who feel comfortable letting you be yourself around them and do you see these people often? If the answer is no you have a much better lead to explain your unhappiness than the leads most people follow when they’ve become unhappy.