When you’re lonely, it’s easy to become focused on how you feel. You feel sad and you keep waiting for someone to connect with you.

But, what if you flipped the script? What if instead of waiting for someone to reach out, you took that first step?

The truth is you may not be the only one feeling lonely in your community. In fact, you’re probably surrounded by more than one person who longs for connection.

It might be the single parent who lives down the street, the manager who works in your office, or the teenager who’s being bullied at school.

But you can make a difference. You can turn your loneliness into an invitation. Consider doing one of these three activities next time you’re feeling lonely…

Set Up a Coffee Date

Reaching out can be as simple as setting up a coffee date with someone else. Invite a college student, an elderly neighbor, or a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Make it your treat and spend some time chatting together.

If you don’t know how to get the conversation rolling, start with a question. A few good questions might include:

  • Who in your life are you closest to? What makes that relationship strong?
  • If you could give a million dollars to charity, which one would you choose? Why?
  • What’s the best lesson you’ve learned this past year?
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Have you completed a recent project you can share with me?

Do Dinner Together

Connecting with others can be as simple as setting an extra place at the table. Ask a new co-worker to join you. Call a family in need and invite them over. Tell a senior citizen that you’d enjoy their company at dinner.

If you have the time and think your guest might enjoy it, bring out a board game or puzzle after the meal. Both of these activities are good ways to get to know your guest and learn about their personality.

Start a Sweet Tradition

Another way to welcome more community into your life is to start a tradition of having dessert together each week. This can be a dessert you’ve prepared yourself like homemade chocolate chip cookies or cracker candy. But it could also be store bought like fudgy brownies or decadent cheesecake.

For your dessert night, you could invite someone in the military who doesn’t have family in the area. Ask a new neighbor to share dessert. Let a single parent know they’re invited for dessert and welcome their kids to join you if they can’t get a sitter.

Call the people you wish would call you. Let go of the idea that they should be the one to call next and be the person who initiates contact. Remember, some people only need an invitation. So, find the courage to reach out and invite others to receive your hospitality.