Researchers may have spotted a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

Feeling connected to our world could be just a daydream away.

"The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness."

That's a quote from journalist and activist Norman Cousins. I think he was onto something.

I would argue the most ironic thing about that eternal quest Cousins speaks of is that so many of us are on it. Together. And in the U.S., a growing number seem to be (unfortunately) joining in on the journey.


A 2010 survey found that 35% of American adults over the age of 45 reported being lonely — up from 20% roughly three decades ago, according to Slate. That's not just cause for concern over America's mental health, either — feeling socially isolated increases our chances of dying prematurely, too.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Fortunately, though, we might have uncovered a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

And (awesomely enough) it may live within our own imaginations.

A new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex in the U.K. found that daydreaming about loved ones may "significantly [increase] feelings of connection, love, and belonging."

In case you're wondering how they got to that conclusion...

  1. Participants (143 students and staff at a British university) all underwent a "loneliness induction," where they answered several questions to gauge how lonely they were. Regardless of their actual answers, each participant was falsely told their score made them "much more lonely than average."
  2. Participants were then separated into three groups: social daydreamers, non-social daydreamers, and a control group.
  3. Both daydreamer groups were instructed to, of course, do just that — daydream. The social daydreamers, however, were asked to imagine a scenario where they were "interacting with another person that [they] have a close, positive, relationship with," while the non-social daydreamers were asked to imagine a scenario that "should just be about [them]." The control group simply did a memory exercise.
  4. Based on answers provided before the loneliness induction, after the loneliness induction, and after the daydreaming task, researchers concluded that those in the daydreaming groups felt a heightened sense of social connection over the control group — especially the social daydreamers.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Like all studies, we should consider the constraints that prevent it from perfectly reflecting reality. Because many respondents were university students, the average participant age was a relatively young 23 years. The sample group was also disproportionately female, as 87 of the 143 participants were women.

Despite the study's limitations, its findings suggest daydreaming could play a role in bettering our cognitive health.

"These findings demonstrate that through imagination, social daydreaming can replenish connectedness, providing a potential strategy for enhancing socio-emotional well-being."

It's nice to know that even just the thought of my friends and family may help me feel even more a part of this big, bustling world of ours. Sweet (day)dreams!

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

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