The Gift

The Gift

My father has been in the hospital since August.  While visiting him, I’ve been moved by how many people in the hospital are alone.  I’ve also thought about the many people who live life alone who are in the hospital as well as the many who are not in the hospital but living their lives by themselves. Loneliness is many people’s reality.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States, tells us that loneliness is our country’s number one health concern. In his letter from the Surgeon General, he tells us, “People began to tell me that they felt isolated, invisible, and insignificant.” He goes on to tell us that loneliness can be as bad as smoking and that 50% of Americans are lonely. This is a terrible problem.

I need to be reminded of the reality that 50% equals 1 out of 2. These people are real people that we know. The people who look like they fit in and those who don’t.

Holidays can be lonely times. It is essential to know this for a few reasons:

  1. If you or someone you know is lonely during the holiday, it is important to understand that this is common, so you’re not alone in feeling this way.  I’m not an expert, but knowing when to ask for help is important.  By asking for help, you could also be helping someone else.
  2. There are simple things we can do to be part of the solution, such as reaching out to people who might be feeling insignificant or alone. Remember that a person doesn’t have to be alone to feel alone. Even successful people like famous athletes can suffer from the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness crosses all boundaries.

The best gifts come in the most unusual packages. Having a child with autism has been a gift that I could have never anticipated. The gift has taught me how I need to grow and change.  There’s so much that I can’t control, but I can be more empathetic. Part of being a great coach is understanding your players from their perspective. This understanding isn’t just limited to coaching; it is also necessary to be a better citizen and person.

As I continue to head into the holiday season, I want to be reminded of the gift now and to act on it throughout the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,