March 30, 2016

We Are Needed - Can You Help?

A few weeks ago I shared information with you about an exciting new project that has the potential to address a serious problem for many retirees--- the need for more positive and frequent human connection. That post, We Just Need A Good Listener, generated very positive feedback. The founders of the Happiness project reviewed your responses and then discussed their implications with me.

I find it exciting that this national program is being shaped, in part, by the feedback from readers of Satisfying Journey. Your ideas and concerns are directly affecting the likelihood of success.

Now, the project coordinators are asking for our help again: they are asking that we make a call to one of their volunteers. Talk with that person about your life and any struggles or concerns you have, along with an overview of how your retirement journey is going. You can share as little or as much as you want. The length of that conversation is up to you, but most range from 30-45 minutes. Shorter is fine, and longer is OK. too.

It is fine to say you were prompted to call after reading about the program on a blog, but try to engage with the person as realistically as possible. You are not "testing" them as much as being someone who responds to their web site invitation to see what it is like.

Then, I ask that you email me with your reaction to that call. Was it easy to set up the phone call? How comfortable did you feel with the person who answered the call? Did you get the sense that they were really listening to you? Did they offer suggestions and follow up to anything you talked about, or were they simply good listeners? Were you uncomfortable at all with the process? Would you recommend this service to someone you know who is lonely, isolated, or has few friends and would welcome some human conversation?

What will happen with your feedback is more refinement of the service. Your name and email address will not be shared with the project directors. They are simply interested in real call testing of the offering. Your experience, both positive and negative, will be very, very important.

It's really easy. Just click on either of the following links, and indicate when you'd be available for a call with a compassionate listener. Calls are anonymous and scheduled at your convenience.

I also encourage you to share the link with anyone you know who might benefit from a conversation with a compassionate listener and would be willing to provide me with some feedback.

If you check out their site and decide not to call, I know the project team would love to hear about any thoughts or concerns that kept you from giving it a try -- please email me those as well. That feedback will be just as important.

Several prominent organizations are taking notice of this effort. Collaboration with Mental Health America (, a national organization dedicated to improving the mental health of all Americans, is being explored. They're also investigating partnerships with profession-oriented entities who feel their members would benefit from this service, including Above the Law (for lawyers), American Nurses Association and a number of personal development advocates.

If you are willing to give this service a try I ask that you schedule a call within the next two or three weeks.

E-mail me at Put something like Happiness project or phone call test in the subject line. Write as little or as much as you want. And, be assured that your feedback will not be made public nor will your e-mail address or name be released. 

I am grateful for your interest in this project and your effort to help make it a success. And, yes, I will be placing a call, too.


  1. A very interesting and worthwhile project you have going here Bob. I salute you for getting involved and trying to get your thousands of reader interested too.

    I personally know the loneliness that deaf people have and I imagine the problems with older hearing impaired folks is worse than the younger generations. Being isolated because of the loss of family and friends can be devastating but can you imagine those who are so isolated due to communications barriers?

    I think the latest statistics show that almost 50% of the deaf population are over 65 years old so there are probably millions of very isolated seniors out there who cannot take advantage of a telephone call. Does your newly adopted organization have anything for them?

    1. Excellent point. TTY would be the obvious answer. I will raise the issue with my contact as to whether some of the listeners can have the equipment to communicate with someone who is deaf.

    2. From what I understand TTYs they are pretty much a thing of the past now. It is mainly text messages and Instant Messaging. Deaf and hearing impaired seniors have always, for the most part shunned TTY. They are extremely expensive and only work with other TTYs.

      The vast majority of hearing impaired seniors are late deafened. That is they lived in the hearing world before their hearing loss. How about a website that would accept comments/messages? I know that is not real time but it is better than nothing. The sad part of all of this is that many seniors just don't use the technology that is available to them but I suspect that many have Internet to communicate with their grandkids and such.

    3. I had passed on your earlier comment to one of the fellows in charge. I am pretty sure he had not thought of the ability to interchange with those suffering from hearing loss but instantly agreed that was very important and would be integrated somehow as they move forward.

      Thanks on the TTY update. Texting and IM are so simple and anyone with a cell phone can participate that way.

  2. Hi Bob, I've just come through a life changing week and I'm going to make a call to the Happiness project soon. We just never know how much our lives can change and how much help we might need. Last week, on my 62nd birthday, I woke up with an upset stomach. Within a few hours I was gripped by abdominal pain, and hub took me to the e-room. They tried to quell the pain, but a cat scan revealed the problem. I had a huge mass that was changing rapidly. I needed help immediately. Bob, I remember your recent e-room experience, so I know you understand when I say that life suddenly felt like a roller coaster ride. The local hospital made preparations to whisk me to a large hospital for surgery. After the six-hour surgery, eight units of blood, I awoke to a brand new world. My faith, family, friends and great oncology team will sustain me. But I'm anxious to make the Happiness call---just because we all need one another. I might even start blogging. Bob, I'd appreciate it if you and Betty would pray for me. I'd also love to have prayer support from the readers. Don't know if it's inappropriate for me to ask. If it is, just let me know. In spite of this past week, I'm still making progress on this satisfying journey.

    1. I forgot to mention that our blood supply across the country, often dips to a dangerous low. I had a total of 10 units during my hospital stay, and one of the nurses said she was so glad of my blood type, because of shortages in other types. Please donate if you're able. Thanks!

    2. Oh, my heavens, Pam. You are on our prayer list as of this moment. What a scary time, but one that ended with you taken care of. Those moments when we lose control are terrifying, and when we need love and support from all those around us.

      Keep me up to date on your recovery.

      BTW, Believe it or not, I had to go to the emergency room on Thursday for an abdominal pain (we may be related!). It turned out to be diverticulitis. I was sent home with instructions to remain on a liquid diet for 36 hours, a few different antibiotics and pain pills.....nothing like you went through but still worrisome for a time because it came on so suddenly.

      Getting old is not for wimps.

    3. I am anxious to get your feedback on your phone call. Send me a private e-mail.

    4. Pam, As a 9 year breast cancer survivor I so remember the pain and shock of those first few weeks after an unexpected and sudden diagnosis. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you make your way through, step by step, minute by minute. I am thankful that you have faith, family, friends, and a good team to help. That is what helped me. Even people who don't know you are concerned and supportive. All my best to you!


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