Below is a short discussion inspired by "Reverse Engineering Misery Loves Company" from the Silver Lining.
Someone feeling miserable may attract someone who feels the same. They can bounce off of each other’s energy. Instead, we can find ways to show positivity, empathy, and perspective. We can be the kind of company that can alleviate another person's loneliness and distress.
Claude Silver, host of The Silver Lining, talks about reverse-engineering the phrase “misery loves company”.
How does she shift its negative connotation into a positive one? Through curiosity, heart-centered leadership, and a solution-oriented mindset:
- Curiosity. We call it "misery loves company" because what we're really looking for is human connection, and not exactly more feelings of sadness to pass around. It's our nature to connect with others. When we understand this, we can find ways to engage with people who might feel like they're stuck with a negative mindset.
- Heart-centered leadership. Even if both of us might feel sad or miserable, we can be the one that ends it. If someone says, “I feel bad today”, we can reply with “So do I,” but we can also follow up with questions like, “how can I help?”
- Solution-oriented mindset. When we ask questions after acknowledging issues, we become solution-oriented individuals. Shifting our focus on the problem that’s causing the negative emotion and not on the emotion itself might be a good place to start.
Even old sayings can take on new meanings. Misery loves company, but that’s only half the story. When we decide to be the company that leads with heart, we can find ways to cope with our feelings of misery better. We can hope to come out of these feelings eventually, more empathic and ready to help others heal as well.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by "Reverse Engineering Misery Loves Company" from The Silver Lining.
“Misery loves company” usually has a negative connotation. It's what we say when people who feel down seek other people who feel the same.
We tend to avoid people who are feeling miserable than we try to connect with them.
Curiosity can change our perspective on what it means for misery to love company. We can understand that misery loves company because humans need connection.
No matter our disposition, we’re always motivated to be with other people. Pessimists are inclined to seek pessimists, while optimists look for optimists.
Heart-centered leadership can help us heal the misery of others. It takes looking into our own pain to show those who are hurting that they can heal.
When someone’s having a hard time, we can share our own difficulties and use it to connect with them. It sounds difficult to be open, but vulnerability is important.
Adopt a solution-oriented mindset. When we’ve identified a problem, a great response is to figure out plans and strategies to deal with them.
Where human connection is a rarity, loneliness is commonplace. The pandemic and its restrictions have all prevented us from fulfilling social needs.
We can address our loneliness through heart-centered self-leadership. We can be honest with ourselves about our feelings and take the time to be in our emotions.
- Ask people how they’re doing. Negative emotions are better addressed through questions, not avoidance. When we take the time to check on how others are doing when they’re down, we can help them find what can make them feel better.
- Open up about your own problems. Heart-centered leadership takes vulnerability. When you’re open about what you’re going through, others will want to share, too.
- Seek people out. It’s human nature to connect with others. We can abate our loneliness by trying to communicate and connect however we can.
- Pay attention to your emotions. Denying our own loneliness and problems rarely solves them, if at all. The best way to start solving problems is by asking. When we apply curiosity to our own feelings of misery, we can arrive at the problems that are causing them.
- Adopt a solution-oriented mindset. When we’ve identified a problem, a great response is to figure out plans and strategies to deal with them. This mindset shifts our focus from negativity to the problem causing it.
For a more in depth conversation, the distilld lessons (extended) are here.