What is a Good Life? #47
Exploring Loneliness & Community with Monika Jiang
On the 47th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I'm delighted to introduce Monika Jiang as our guest. Monika, a writer, curator, and community builder, currently focuses on exploring loneliness as a uniquely shared experience with the potential to bring us closer together.
Throughout this episode, we examine how we've isolated ourselves from one another, the depth of relationships and intimacy we presently experience, the dynamics of unhealthy dialogue and political division, and the impact of our hyper-stimulated lives influenced by technology and work. Additionally, we share our personal experiences with loneliness.
We delve into the nuances of loneliness, whether it's related to feeling a lack of community or connection, being alone in our perspectives on the world, or experiencing solitude in our inner worlds.
The episode also explores the significance of community and how we can continuously foster and cultivate connection.
If you are like so many who are experiencing a greater sense of loneliness, this episode explores numerous perspectives on a theme that is only growing more synonymous with modern life. While we also share many insights, anecdotes, and experiences for building both more connection and community in your life.
The weekly clip from the podcast (6 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (62 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
Special Announcement 📣
I am running pilots for dialogue groups and programs I am building around authentic expression and relating. The next one is this Thursday, December 6th, at 18:30 CET (on Zoom) and it is simply a silent encounter for 30 minutes, click here to find out more and drop me your email if you wish to join and receive an invite, it’s currently free.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
Numerous strains of thought come to mind when I consider the theme of loneliness. Firstly, almost in a defiant way, I think of how society is becoming lonelier, and I have never felt so connected to myself, my relationships, or my local community. And yet, what I have done to cultivate all that connection has created its own loneliness at times, by going my own way or making choices that leave me feeling isolated with how I see the world relative to peer groups. Actually, when I think about it, the journey to being and expressing yourself, given we are all unique, probably has a certain degree of loneliness inherent in that path. Even though initially I rejected the sense of any loneliness existing in my life, on reflection, my style of friendship can leave me momentarily feeling lonely at times too.
I am not much of a small talker these days; typically, I’ll find myself and friends are straight into the depths of some monumental life experiences. The intensity of these conversations makes me feel very alive, but it doesn’t always lend itself to regular contact. While sometimes I am stuck between not being arsed to do the small talk stuff and not having the energy for several deep dives in a day with numerous people, or multiple times a month with the same person. My friendship style is more that we’ll discuss things of a relatively deep and intimate nature, but we may not chat again or even text for another 2-3 months.
Now that I write that out, I always paint the fact that I say hello to so many people in my neighborhood, building up a network of many small, frequent touchpoints a day, as a reflection of me being a very open and connected person. In hindsight, I am sure it was also driven by a sense of what my present style of friendship lacked. Before having this conversation with Monika, I probably would have anticipated writing that the shallowness and distracted nature of our communication are leaving us disconnected, and our relationships are leaving us malnourished from a connection perspective, but it’s clearer to me now I have a yearning for several styles of connection. Which obviously also includes being alone and time to myself. Loneliness simply doesn’t equate to being with or without people, and sometimes I am in as much need to be alone as the momentary needs I have to be with people.
It’s interesting to consider a topic that on casual reflection I was actually sure I didn’t experience at all, to see the nuance and subtlety of its appearance even in what I would consider a very connected life. While it also shows me that a certain degree of loneliness is inherent in our lives, and like so many of the joys and sufferings of a human life, it may also be yet another deeply connecting universal experience if we share it with others.
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3. Full Episode - Exploring Loneliness & Community - What is a Good Life? #47
4. This week’s Questions
Are you presently experiencing any loneliness? Loneliness stemming from a lack of connection, with a way of seeing the world, with a lack of community?
What comes to mind for ways in which you could build more connection and community in your life?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 170 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.