If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, using even very simple math may help you feel more hopeful that your life can get better.
For example, I currently only know my parents and professionals who provide me services, such as my therapist. One source of my mental illness has been wondering if I’ll ever have friendships in my life.
I just thought of an easy mathematical thought experiment today that has somewhat improved my outlook. For the sake of easy math, I rounded my age up from 24 to 25, and estimated that I’ll live to age 75. That would, theoretically, give me about 50 years to try to make friends.
If, for 50 years, I go to one social event (i.e, a book club at my local bookstore) per month, that’ll give me 600 opportunities throughout the rest of my life to meet potential friends. If I have a 1% chance of meeting someone who becomes a friend at any given event, then theoretically, there would still be six events in my lifetime at which I’d meet a new friend. Making six friends throughout my lifetime would still be better than the number of friends I’d have if I don’t socialize, which would be zero.
If I manage to go to two social events per month, that would be around 1200 opportunities to meet potential friends. At 1% odds, that could be 12 friendships throughout my lifetime.
If I go to four social events per month, that would be around 2400 opportunities, and that could be 24 friendships throughout my lifetime.
I know that in reality, the probability that I’ll make friends is a lot more complicated. There are a lot of factors involved. The purpose of this exercise, at least for now, isn’t to calculate what exact odds of making friends, but to give a broad overview of how simply spending enough time socializing throughout our lives, in itself, can give us better odds than we might initially think of finding the connections we hope for.