Intents come from our soul and represent who we aspire to be as individuals, members of our communities and citizens of Mother Earth. Continue reading
One major challenge within happiness is loneliness. The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a common and important obstacle to consider.
To be happy, we need intimate bonds; we need to be able to confide, we need to feel like we belong, we need to be able to get and give support. In fact, strong relationships are key — perhaps the key — to a happy life.
Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.
It seems to me that there are several types of loneliness. Of course, not everyone experiences loneliness in the situations described — for instance, not everyone wants a romantic partner. But for some people, the lack of certain kinds of relationships brings loneliness.
Once we’ve pinpointed the particular kind of loneliness we’re experiencing, it may be easier to spot ways to address it.
Here are some types I’ve identified — what have I overlooked?
7 Types of Loneliness
1. New-situation loneliness
You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely.
2. I’m-different loneliness
You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition.
3. No-sweetheart loneliness
Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person.
4. No-animal loneliness
Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives.
5. No-time-for-me loneliness
Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started family, so that your social scene has changed.
6. Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. You’re “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends.
7. Quiet-presence loneliness
Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room, or reading on the sofa.
If you read this list, and you’re thinking, “Yes, I do feel lonely — so what the heck do I do about it?” you might find this post useful: Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness. Or this: Feeling Lonely? Consider Trying These 7 Strategies. (These posts are different from each other, even though the titles sound similar.)
It’s important to realize why we feel lonely, because only then can we see how we might address it. If you’re no-time-for-me lonely, for instance, maybe a solution would be to work with people on a project, where you’d be doing an endeavor together, on something you’ve all made time for. My mother once noted — and I think it’s very true — it’s easier to make friends when you’re working on a project together.
Loneliness is a major factor in unhappiness, so it’s an important area to tackle, if you’re working on making yourself happier.
Want to learn more? When I researched loneliness, I was very surprised by what I found, which I wrote about here: Some counter-intuitive facts about loneliness.
If you want to read more deeply on the subject of loneliness, I highly recommend two books: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily White, Lonely, a memoir about the author’s own experiences and research into loneliness. Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.
One of the keys — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people. The lack of these bonds, even temporarily, is a major happiness stumbling block.
Have you found any good ways to understand and deal with loneliness?
As I mentioned above, I talk a lot about strengthening relationships in my book The Happiness Project. Can’t help mentioning–it was on the New York Times bestseller list for two years, and has been translated into more than 35 languages. You can read sample chapters; watch the one-minute book video; request the one-page discussion guide or spiritual discussion guide; listen to a sample of the audiobook (that’s me, reading from the Introduction). Also, email me if you want to see my happiness-project chart and get a blank template to use yourself.
Other posts you might be interested in . . .
Who would you call your best friend?
Who are your go-to’s when you have something tough to discuss? Since we’re no longer in grade school and since no one remembers what speed dial is anymore, perhaps it’s been a minute since you’ve had to consider who your trusted council would be.
Whether you’re 8 or 38, there is something cathartic about getting your tough questions off your chest and when you have wise sounding boards, you’re all the more likely to feel prepared to tackle them. So who are your people? Could you write down three names on a sheet of paper?
Our intent is to seek wise guidance, to find the people we trust to advise us and to be the kind of people who are willing to open up and give in the same way.
Sound scary? We have three things to help: Continue reading
It can feel sometimes like the world has gone mad. Public discourse is filled with anger and confusion; people sit together in crowded spaces staring at their own flickering screens, isolated by the technology intended to connect them. And throughout the world, parents look for answers: How do I raise healthy, happy children in this complex world? How can I guide their behavior without punishing or spoiling them? Is it possible to build strong relationships in a fractured world?
The answer is yes—but it takes thoughtfulness and commitment. And the foundation is both simpler and more complicated than you might think. When parents are asked what they believe is most essential to raising capable, healthy children, most of them offer the obvious answer: love. But as it turns out, some of the things parents do in the name of loving their children are not helpful or effective. Children need more than love alone.
Imagine an infant lying contentedly in her crib. She may be watching her hands or gazing with fascination at her own feet when she suddenly becomes aware of a need. She may be hungry, or wet, or lonely, or tired. Whatever the cause, she cries to let her caregivers know that she needs them. And those caregivers usually rush to pick her up and soothe her. Especially when parents are new to the job, it may take several bumbling efforts before the cause of the baby’s distress is discovered and resolved. Eventually, however, the baby goes back to resting contentedly and her parents breathe a sigh of relief—until next time.
How many times in a day do you think this little scenario unfolds? Dozens, even hundreds of times—and each time, a baby learns more about trust and about the family she is now part of. If this cycle continues consistently throughout her childhood, she will develop what researchers refer to as “secure attachment”, what Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs called a “sense of belonging and significance” more than 100 years ago, and what in Positive Discipline is simply called “connection” (www.positivediscipline.org). This sense of being wanted and cared for unconditionally sets the stage for everything children will learn in life. Continue reading
If you’re sitting somewhere with your head down, just trying to make it through the day, we’re with you. This is why our intent today is about connecting. Sometimes it is when we want it the least that we need it the most. We want to encourage you to pick your eyes up and look around. Who’s there? Maybe it’s a barista. Maybe it’s your best friend. Whether it is a person you will see again or not, we encourage you to make the most of today by reaching outside of your bubble and allowing yourself to be impacted by those around you. Let them be impacted by you too. The world seems to be in desperate need of it!
You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading
Earth Day only happens once a year but we think it’s important to remember our connection to our environment and planet every day. Whether it’s a simple thing like drinking your morning cup of coffee outside to take a moment and appreciate the green grass and nice weather or if you’ve taken the extra steps to start composting your household waist. There are so many things we can do, big and small, to show appreciation for Mother Earth and take steps to take better care of her. A lot of the things we promote on Intent – meditation, connection, being present – are all related to the understanding that we are all bonded with the world around us. We are connected to each other and the living things on this planet, and when we appreciate that fact we begin to lead happier and lighter lives. So for our weekly quote post we gathered some inspirational sayings to inspire a strengthened bond between you and our earth.
So many of us feel like our lives are a race – a dash. We are sprinting through the events of our lives to get them “all done.” We have amazing to-do lists; we are compelled to achieve and accomplish; society says this is how we get ahead. We pride ourselves on being so productive.
But what if, instead, the value of life were not in the dash and amount of things we do, but in the quality of life’s events – in the time we spend enjoying, connecting and becoming part of what we do? What if life were more like a garden path than a superhighway?
My dad was an amazing gardener. And the garden was the learning ground for so many lessons in life. The greatest lesson I remember is the role of the garden path.
He explained that the garden path is designed to help us slow down and connect to the Earth, Mother Nature and the amazing flora around us. A path zigs and zags – it is never a straight line. The straight line pulls us to a destination; we feel obliged to keep moving – get someone where. The meandering garden path, on the other hand, encourages us to slow down and to spend time on each curve, connecting with and admiring each new view because at each bend in the path, the view is entirely different. There is so much more to see; there is so much more to be part of.
It is the same with life. With each new event in life, we see things differently. We learn. We appreciate. We participate more fully when we slow down and become more present.
Life on the straight path – on the superhighways – encourages us to move quickly; the garden path encourages us to slow down and connect with our amazing planet, nature and the beauty of our environment. We show up more to the moments of our lives. Life is fuller. Life is richer. Life is more amazing.
For my family, planning what was planted along the path was a labor of love. We would visit nursery after nursery, looking at plant size and colors (in all seasons), and sampling fragrances. The walk along the path was to be a full sensory experience – to hear the wind in the foliage, to see the colors in the flowers and leaves, to smell the scents and to touch the textures. Our gardens were outdoor masterpieces – works of art that were inspired by love and created for the benefit of all who would commit the time to come off of the highway and intentionally choose to walk instead of run, notice instead of ignore and share instead of take. Heaven.
My dad is no longer with us, but his love of gardening, plants and nature courses through the veins of all of my five siblings and me. Though we are also a family that can get comfortable on the superhighway – focused on achieving and doing – we always remember the valuable lesson of the garden path – I lesson I am glad to share. We know that there is more to life than a grand to-do list. Life was not designed for the dash; it was designed for the meandering walk along a great garden path, to appreciate and be part of the things along the way.
Here is one of Dad’s favorite garden poems that my siblings and I now keep posted on our fridges or computers – to remind us of what he used to regularly call to remind us: go out in the garden, life is beautiful there.
There’s peace within a garden,
A peace so deep and calm;
That when the heart is troubled,
It’s like a healing balm.
There’s life within a garden,
A life that still goes on,
Filling the empty places
When older plants have gone.
There’s glory in a garden,
At every time of year;
Spring, summer, autumn, winter
To fill the heart with cheer.
So ever tend your garden,
Its beauty to increase;
For in it you’ll find solace,
And in it, you’ll find peace.
Be intentional about your time with the gifts of our planet, that generously share themselves with those who take the time to notice. Go out in the garden.
The bus from Yangon to Mandalay was packed and I was the only foreigner on it. As such, I was given a seat up front, among the monks dressed in their dark orange robes. Slowly we made our way north on the toll way. In Myanmar, there aren’t any radio stations or satellite radio to be played as the miles crept by. The country has the lowest mobile phone penetration in the world after North Korea and, well, considering that that country is on permanent lockdown, Myanmar has the lowest mobile phone penetration of any country where you can actually buy a phone.
This means as the miles roll by, the people on the bus start to converse and talk. The conversations start muted, whispers from two people sharing a thought or secret and then they slowly built. By the time we were an hour out of Yangon, people were standing in the aisles, talking, laughing and sharing snacks. By the time the bus stopped for lunch, everyone piled out together and shared tables at the the roadside restaurant.
I thought of that trip last year as I sat at the airport in Boston recently. All around me were my fellow passengers on the journey, glued to their phones and computers, listening to music and shut off from the world. There wasn’t a single conversation happening around me. No one had met anyone or shared a story of their day. No snacks were being pulled out and traded.
In Myanmar, they are anxious for the chance to buy the latest phone. They lament the lack of Internet and how slow it is when it does exist. They wonder how much better their lives would be if they had more wifi, more connection and more technology.
In the States, I don’t think that collectively we understand the impact of technology on our lives. I have learned a lot during my yoga practice about being present, about being on the mat. At one of my favorite yoga studios in the world, there is often a sign on the blackboard about how you can’t do anything tomorrow and you can’t do anything yesterday, today’s the day.
We speak in the Internet and the ability to be in touch with everyone in our collective worlds as being “connected.” Partially, that’s true. The technology and the platforms that are at our fingertips do make it easier to stay in touch with family, friends and business colleagues – especially the ones that are at a great physical distance from us.
But it comes at the cost of disconnecting from where we are now. At the airport in Boston, I watched as people messaged, emailed and called people who were not around them physically. I realized that every person around me was trying to connect electronically with a person or a place – they all were trying to be somewhere else, or with someone else.
When a hundred people gather to get on a plane, and everyone is trying to be somewhere else, there is no chance of true connection. There is no chance to meet someone interesting or perhaps, meet a new partner or even future spouse. My parents met in Washington, D.C. at the airport. My mother was flying up to New York for the weekend and my father was heading home to Boston. Would they have even met if they had both had their heads down texting friends? I doubt it.
The advent of wearable technology, Google Glasses and the like, will make the situation even worse. At least when people have to look at their phones or computers, there is the chance that that they might make eye contact with someone. If they are wearing their phone, that low chance is completely gone.
In Myanmar, they anxiously await lower prices for cell phones and improvements in the Internet. All that does is make me want to return there before it happens so that I can enjoy a people and a culture that is still truly connected.
By Linda Lauren
In my practice, many people seek my guidance on their spiritual progress. They want to live more positively and many incorporate prayer into their daily routine.
A client came in the other day to discuss meditation. Like many novice to the practice, she kept telling me that she simply didn’t have time for it. She also told me that there had to be a quick, easy way to have God answer her prayers. I studied her for a moment and then asked:
“Praying is asking a question and meditation is listening for the answer. Do you often ask questions and run off?”
“Then how do you know you are being heard?”
Meditation is a rewarding way of connecting prayer with a higher power. It doesn’t matter whether you label that higher power your Higher Self, God, Source, or anything else, you will still need to hear beyond the experience of listening with the ear in order to truly hear the energy within. When we are in a prayerful state our spirit is communicating with that higher power and it is something greater than what we perceive in everyday life. Prayer then becomes a spiritual dialogue, (the intention) and if you do not incorporate the act of mindful listening (meditation), you will most likely lose the essence of the complete message and miss out on the answer on a deeper level.
So, when you are praying, remember to also give pause to hear beyond your surroundings to deep within the nature of the you within your spirit. I have found incredible insight comes to me when prayer and meditation are understood as companions: Prayer indulges the question (the intention) and meditation (the answer) is provided through silence.
Our present world is one that moves at an incredibly high-stress, fast pace. Many of us are used to working fast, typing fast, and living fast. We focus on social media streams rather than streams of consciousness. Switch that up and give yourself the time to reward your intentions by allowing the connection of meditation to accompany your prayers and you will shine your light brighter.
Like Linda’s post? Check out these similar intents on Intent.com
Linda Lauren is a fourth-generation psychic medium, Color & Energy Consultant, Author and Reiki Practitioner, who connects with people who come to her for guidance through the color and energy she senses around them. Linda, known as the ‘Travel Psychic™’, also uses that energy to guide her clients with their travel plans.