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Old and Joyous


By David Sanford

Feeling Lonely? Give to Someone

It’s painful to be alone and lonely, especially in a bright, lovely city like San Miguel that feels made for happiness, not misery. Imagine that you are very lonely here. If only this were a dreary town, your loneliness would fit better! You have few acquaintances and no friends. You are sure that people can read unhappiness on your face. You deliberately keep to yourself. Increasingly, you fear that, unless something changes, you will remain en casa and venture out only to buy food.

Something has to change, you think to yourself. Fortunately, nothing is likely to change in your situation unless you do. Here is what I have discovered about overcoming loneliness:

1) Don’t expect to be rescued. If you are so fortunate as to meet a friendly someone, begin quickly to explore that person’s interests. In doing so, you will be helping to establish a healthy relationship balance and present yourself as someone who can give: already more that way than needy.

If you are frequently lonely, then you know what it is to ne needy. “Needy” is not attractive. “Needy” is likely to leave you feeling even more needy than you already are.

2) What is called for here is a deliberate change in what I call “stance.” You may associate the term with baseball and the way that the batter addresses the pitcher with his posture and the directness of his gaze. (“Go ahead; pitch to me. I am more than ready!”) You (the lonely person) have inadvertently acquired the stance of someone who is all needs and has nothing to give. In reality, you have much to give. You may not think so now, but through your behavior, you will experience differently.

Let’s start with your breathing. Stand as straight as you can. The physical light in our town is very special. Breathe in that light; let it lighten you as it does. Let your arms rise along with your breathing. Continue this practice for a bit, taking in more and more light as you do so. This image of strength is your new stance in its physical form. Practice it regularly.

We all need to be treated in a positive way. It can feel especially good when you greet by name someone in a service position, such as a bagger in a grocery store whom you encounter regularly. Have something friendly to say in advance of such encounters.

Follow this practice regularly, and you will begin to see yourself as someone who gives to others. Part of the strength of this approach is that you can’t simultaneously experience yourself as needy, while brightening other people’s lives. The two won’t mix. The more you practice your new stance, the less needy you will be.

I value your feedback. You can contact me at

David E. Sanford is 82. His website is For 30 years, David was a relationship therapist. He is the author of five books on love, couple relationships, and marriage. David and his wife, Joyce, live in San Miguel in wintertime


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