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An Optimal Life Concept

Feelings of Aloneness

Feelings of aloneness are often confused with feelings of alienation. The confusion arises because the fact is simply that you are different from everyone else. And everyone else is different from you. We are not all the same, in genetic make-up, in our experiences, in our preferences, in our temperaments, in our aspirations, in our values. Thank goodness for that.

Take your values, for example.What I want  may not be what you What you want becomes what you value. It's simply a matter of priorities. The more you want something the more you value it. That's what I think we mean by the word values. The importance or priority that you assign to some thing, person or belief determines how much you value that thing, person or belief. In this way your values, your priorities, may differ from mine. It all depends upon what's important to you and how much it's important to you, whether thing, person or belief.

What you are used to having and doing, and what you want to keep on having and doing, becomes something you value. What you imagine you can get, and are striving to get, also becomes something you value. At least, this continues to be so until you change your mind

For example, I might not want to use my money at this moment to buy a car. I may prefer to spend my money on my education, or to get more training. But education and training may not be as important to you as a car. Some people forego a costly education or training for the sake of something else they want. It's simply a matter of what's important to you that determines what you are likely to do or not do.

Part of valuing is striving to keep what you already have. This is true not only of your possessions, but also of your character. What you want people to think of you. Another part of valuing is striving to get what you do not yet have. How much you value what you have, and what you really want, is obvious by how much you are willing to do or how much you are willing to put out to get what you want or to keep what you have.

To get what you want you may join together with others whom you imagine will help you get what you want. This togetherness may be informal, almost casual. Or this coming together may be quite highly structured involving legal contracts, like marriage, incorporation, and the like.

You are more likely to hang out with others who say they want what you want, who act as you do, believe as you do, think as you do, dress as you do, in other words, who support most of your values, who accept as important most of what you accept as important.

If you are part of no such group, you may feel alone and lonely, unimportant, without companionship, alienated, worthless. This condition can lead to your feeling sad or depressed. Or as a consequence of your loss of self-esteem you may come to feel resentful and angry. You may even take your frustrations out on others by acts of physical and verbal abuse.

Of course, you could decide to change your values by accepting the values of the group to which you want to belong. This would mean changing what you want or changing the degree of importance you attach to whatever it is you think you want. You do have these options, although sometimes you may act as if you do not have such options.

What about the aged? the sick? the disabled? the mentally ill? the homosexual? Imagine the sense of alienation these people must experience, the sense of separation from the large majority of others unlike themselves. Imagine the sense of loss, the sense of frustration these people must experience, and correspondingly imagine the feelings of sadness and depression, the feelings of resentment and anger they must experience.

The question I have put to myself is the question I now put to you. Do the following people matter to you enough to care about them: the aged? the sick? the disabled? the homosexual? Do they matter to you in any important way? Or are they the outcasts of your value system?

Suggested Readings

  • G. E. Moore, Ethics
  • Pitirim Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics
  • Pitirim Sorokin, The Crisis of Our Age
  • Ralph Barton Perry, Theory of Values




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Revised January 3, 1999
© Charles Claude Brodeur 1999


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