Tag Archives: friends

7 Types of Loneliness (and Why It Matters)

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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?

 

Also …

happinessprojectcoverfullviewAs 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 . . .

From Intent.com: Get Happy!

I love that the sun is starting to stay a little longer every day.
Is there still a polar vortex? Is that still happening?
I think it’s safe to say everyone is over the polar vortex.
We’re ready for the sun.

It’s such a joy hanging out with the folks on Intent.com because no matter the weather- rain, clouds, Los Angeles- they are always so focused and driven to live whole-hearted, healthy lives.

Right now, in the wake of Spring and the Olympics, we’re hearing a lot of buzz about happiness. Some of my favorite words about happiness?

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
-Marthe Troly-Curtin

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
-Paul Simon

What makes you happy?
What places in your life could use a little happiness?
Here are a couple of things you could do to help you find it:

1. Keep a gratitude journal. Some people keep track of happy moments or things via journal or awesome jar or some other method for recording and saving.

2. Meditation. Take a few moments in your morning to focus on what you’re looking for. “Today I intend to find happiness in even the smallest moments.” Keeping that at the forefront of your mind all day has this way of making those bight spots of happy all the brighter when they happen because you’re not bussing right by. You’re training your eyes to see them.

3. Set an intent. I’d be remiss if I did not encourage you to create your own Intent.com profile. You can share your intentions (the one about happiness seems like a good place to start!), get feedback and encouragement, keep track of how you’re doing, whatever you need it to be. You have the opportunity to combine the perks of a journal with real humans who are walking alongside with you. So why not? Check out these intentions:

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So, as the Patridge family so famously sang, “come on, get happy!”
We’re with you!

Best Friends Club

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I am an adult with a Best Friends Club.
You read that right.
I remember being a kid and making a list of friends for my birthday.
20 people on the list? Man, I was popular.
But I also remember asking my parents if they had 20 friends.
I’d never seen them hang out with their friends late at night.
They weren’t going to meet friends at Hot Wheels Roller Rink like I was.
Did they not have any friends?
I decided I would never be an adult without friends.

Then I grew up. I’ve realized how difficult it can be to maintain relationships as you get older. People have jobs. They move away to different states. They get married and have kids. They start posting really weird political things on their Facebook pages. Being an adult with friends can be tough.

A really wonderful and wise man I know wrote this blog about Mastermind Groups.
Based on his description, a Mastermind Group is “12 (or less) people meeting once a week, reading books, and sharing life together.” He talks about how starting his own group of 5 guys who were in similar places in their lives pushed ALL of them to levels they never thought imaginable.

So I did it.

I started a secret club with four of my friends (really, there’s no reason for it to be secret. It just made it more fun for all of us and when you’re adults, sometimes you have to make your own fun) and we get together to share scripts and books, work on writing projects together and occasionally eat fancy foods. We check in with each other. We set goals for delivery of new material. We work on writing stuff.

The interesting thing is that our mastermind group kind of overflowed into the rest of our lives. Aside from the really great accountability it provided for us to get pen to paper, there were some other unexpected things we took away from this group:

1. Choose your team well.
When you’re in elementary school, your friends are the 23 other kids that happened to be assigned to the same teacher. The nice thing about being an adult is that you can be active in deciding who does and does not have access to you. So choose your team well! Choose people who allow you to feel like yourself. Choose people that are going to challenge you, not just fill the room with hot air.

2. Spend your time well.
Making time for something in your life that will meet regularly is a quick way to see what fluff is filling your calendar. I say time and time again that if your favorite thing to do is cook but you make no time for cooking, what are you doing instead? If the fruits of your labor with your mastermind group are the things you want most, you’re going to have to find places to cut back elsewhere. And don’t forget that the meeting time isn’t the only time you need space. If you’re writing, you have to have time to write if you’re going to bring anything to the group. Don’t forget that important piece of the puzzle!

3. Communicate well.
When there are 5 people you’re managing, you have to learn to be quick and honest. We don’t have time to waste rambling or not being intentional. So whether it’s in our meetings, where we employ stopwatches when we’re sharing material, or in our email chains, a date for our next meeting is suggested and everyone has until the end of the day to respond , we have learned that dragging out communication means keeping all of us in limbo. A real quick way to have 5 angry people is to keep them all in limbo. So be decisive. If you can’t be somewhere, say it. If you can, say it. You don’t want 4 masterminds turning against you.

So who would be in your group?
And what do you even want accomplished?
Maybe it’s a group that exercises together.
Maybe it’s a group of budding entrepreneurs.
Maybe it’s a group of moms or comedians or people from Washington state.
You get to decide. They’re your friends after all.

When Too Much of a Good Thing Sours a Marriage

Wedding ringsBy: Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

When we fall in love and meet that most amazing person for us, we feel as if we have finally come to a place where we can rest. It not easy to meet the right person to spend our lives with and the search can be long, disappointing and hard. When it finally feels right, all of that disappointment is quickly erased and it feels as if it all had a purpose once we have met the one we want to settle down with. There is not a more beautiful feeling than this. What do we do then, we when we know we have met our perfect partner and over time it seems as if what we have is almost too good and things start to sour?

1) Balance Out Too Much Time Together:  Many couples who are madly in love tend to spend all their time together, not leaving any time for family, friends or other alone-time activities. They try and do all of these activities together. This must be balanced out.

2) Get Back to Friend Time:  Every person needs more than one person in their lives to have a healthy balance. Friends and family are important sources of connection and belonging and meet totally different needs than our partner. These people make our lives whole and our identities more solid. Getting feedback and interaction from many people is a great source of self-esteem.

3) Alone Time Activities: Whether it is working out, reading, taking walks, taking baths or watching TV make sure you get enough of this. Remind yourself that you can be alone and feel completely fulfilled. It is so important to maintain activities that soothe and fulfill your soul that have nothing to do with anyone but you. This reminds you of your vale, of your special qualities and that you are happy on your own.

4) Support Your Partner’s Independence: Make sure you support your partner to go out in this world to be the biggest, brightest version that they can be. We should want our partner’s to be fulfilled in all ways and not held back by the marriage. Rather the marriage should be the supportive spring board from which all success occurs.

5) Never Do For Your Partner What They Can Do for Themselves:  The best way to help your partner grow is to encourage them to handle their own life challenges. You can support your partner emotionally but do not get too enmeshed in their issues. This creates arguments and not enough separation. Life challenges us all, be there to support and encourage but not to enable.

When each partner came into the relationship they had independent lives, activities and commitments which made them fulfilled. It happens so often when we combine with someone we lose track of how we eat, how much exercise, read, and do the things which fulfilled us before.  We become one with our partner and their desires giving up essential parts of ourselves. Soon each partner misses the person the other used to be and they miss the person they used to be. It takes discipline not to lose yourself into someone else but if you want the marriage to last long term, make sure you love yourself and your partner enough to maintain your own happiness and identity.

Little life message: The sexiest thing to be to your partner is interesting, so make sure to keep your independence.

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Dr. Sherrie Campbell is the author of Loving Yourself and is a licensed Psychologist with more than nineteen years of clinical training and experience. She provides practical tools to help people overcome obstacles to self-love and truly achieve an empowered life. Click here to get her free article on Five Ways to Make Love the Common Ground in Your Communication.   She is a featured expert on a variety of national websites and has a successful practice in Southern California. Receive free insights from Sherrie and to be involved in her Facebook community of others looking to improve their relationship. For more information visit http://www.sherriecampbellphd.com.

6 Quotes That Define “What is Love?”

It’s the defining quality of the universe. It’s the elusive dream. It’s our life blood. It’s…, well the definition changes with every person you ask, but that hasn’t stopped everyone from trying to quantify it. The “it” is love, of course. What does it mean to you? How do you define it? We’re looking at love in all its shapes, forms and sizes this week on Intent Blog. So we rounded up a few quotes that tried to explain what love is to get you thinking.

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Deepak Chopra likes to ask in his soul profiles, “Is the universe a noun or a verb? Are you a noun or a verb?” Why shouldn’t we ask the same question of love? Something that drives so much of humanity has to be a word of action, right?

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Why else would we go through the tribulations and difficulties of life?

Great Quotes For Love

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We don’t have another ability that is so divine – whether romantically, platonically or universally.

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Love is those who we keep closest to us.

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It’s finding joy in the smallest things.

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It’s putting someone else’s needs above your own, even if that means giving them control of the remote.

What is love to you? Share your thoughts and favorite quotes in the comments below! 

Cute Alert: This Little Girl and Baby Gorilla Are Best Friends

This video is taking the Internet by storm, which perhaps says more about us viewers than it does about the girl or the gorilla or their adorable friendship. But before we go any further, let’s take a look and this incredible moment:

From an adult’s perspective, it’s hard not to jump to praise the little girl for her undiscriminating love and curiosity. Where an adult might be burdened by thoughts of species superiority, or over identification with being human, or even with the well-intentioned concerns for animal rights, this little girl springs to playfulness and conviviality. The baby gorilla matches her enthusiasm, playing right along with her. The adults laugh and capture the moment on film, somewhat removed from the scene because, ostensibly, the moment isn’t really theirs to experience.

If you are among those whose mind jumps to thoughts of the treatment of animals in captivity, then we encourage you to investigate those feelings more. Do some research, talk with people who work in such facilities, and stay away from zoos and animal parks if they make you uncomfortable. We will support your cause.

In another light, though, it might behoove us adults to examine our own relationships (or lack thereof) with non-human animals. When we walk our dogs, step around pigeons, or visit zoos, are we approaching and interacting with these animals authentically? Are we seeing their lived existence and appreciating them for what they are? Or do we ever fall prey to feelings of superiority, disregard, or even condescension?

Consider this: Next time you come in contact with an animal, try seeing them and interacting with them as fully and honestly as you would interact with a friend. Let’s all take a lesson from this video’s amazing inter-species friendship and do our species proud!

How I Survived My First Piece of Hate Mail

27B-stroke-6! Bloody paperwork!There’s this beautiful window of time right after I post a fresh blog entry when my Facebook notifications slowly start rolling in, indicating comments from friends who’ve just read my writing. My favorite part is when my phone starts to buzz, signaling the email that says someone has taken the time to comment on one of my musings directly on my website.

It was that sweet moment in the the blog post afterglow as I’d just finished an ode to two of my dearest friends. One of the friends I’d written about had taken the time to tell me what a great writer he thought I was, that I was “really talented.” I was beaming. Thus, when my phone made its fateful buzzing noise, I couldn’t wait to read what was in my inbox.

And then, like lightening to the heart, there it was:

A negative comment.

This wasn’t just your average negative opinion. This comment, my friend’s, was rife with venom. Passionate venom.

If I am a lucky writer, this is will be one of many, many more negative comments to come. Did I mention that didn’t make it any easier to read? I knew enough to know that anyone who takes their precious time to write something so hostile couldn’t possibly be coming from a very happy place themselves, but I flirted with the idea of reading it for the fourth time before finally trashing it. I was reminded of what one of my favorite writers, Gabrielle Bernstein, has said on the subject:

When hate mail is received, simply “forgive and delete.”

In alignment with the post our mystery commenter was criticizing, I went ahead and said a little prayer for him at the urging of my friend Jenn before trashing the comment altogether. I came away feeling honored that someone cared enough to care so passionately about something I’d written, even if that was how they expressed it.

Building Healthier, Happier Communities Through Functional Medicine

₪ Cobija: Corporativa al atardecer - Flickr Meeting at Tusk ₪With Mark Hyman, MD and Lissa Rankin, MD

We live in an era in which individualism is rewarded, and collectivism is seen as weak. We raise our children to be independent and self-reliant. It’s so hard for us to ask for help. Interestingly, we also practice medicine this way. We teach our future medical leaders to separate the body into individual disconnected parts. We allow patients to believe that their distinct symptoms are totally isolated and unrelated. If this kind of medical system supported better outcomes, creating healthier and happier communities, then it would be acceptable, and we wouldn’t even need to discuss this. But the simple fact is it isn’t working, and we are now at the brink of a health revolution through which medical visionaries are now working together to bring in a new era of living well and feeling great.

In my work as a functional medicine doctor, I see the patient as a whole person instead of merely as an assortment of disconnected parts. The body is an extraordinary system; every part is connected via an intricate web of body, mind, and spirit. In functional medicine, we seek the root causes of illness so that we can address the underlying triggers that have thrown the patient off balance. In order to heal properly, the whole patient requires attention; that includes the emotions, thoughts, and spirit of a human being—not just the physical body.

Throughout the many years I’ve worked with my patients using this model of medicine, I’ve been astounded by the resilience of the human body. It’s humbling to realize that, even though I was taught in medical school to believe that a patient’s recovery is completely in my hands, in fact, it is the patient who has the most power. My job is to be a facilitator who gently assists the body back to its natural state of health. I do this by encouraging a paradigm shift in the hearts and minds of patients. We discuss the role of whole foods, water, air, light, rest, movement, sleep, rhythm, connection, love, meaning, and purpose. (For more information on the seven fundamental systems in your body that can bring back balance, see my book The Blood Sugar Solution).

We need doctors who understand how well the body reacts when the whole system is treated, not just the symptoms. One doctor in particular, Lissa Rankin, has made a career out of a calling she felt to serve her patients on the most authentic level possible. She inspires me along with the thousands following her online health and wellness community, Owning Pink. She began this site as her own way of revolutionizing healthcare, encouraging people in need of healing to own all the many facets that make them whole: their relationships, their professional lives, their creative lives, their spiritual lives, their sex lives, their environment, their physical and mental health, and more.

Lissa’s work is functional medicine at its best, addressing the truth that we all need each other to lean on, to help heal, to connect, and to flourish. Lissa and I share the belief that there is nothing more productive and exciting than a collective of people united together to combat feelings of loneliness and powerlessness in the face of illness. Because she and I feel a special calling to do this work, I wanted to invite her to share with us some insight into her unique approach to healing. Here are some questions I asked her followed by her comments.

Dr. Mark: On your blog site LissaRankin.com and on your community site, Owning Pink, I see a lot of importance placed on finding one’s truth and authentic nature. I, too, encourage my patients to reflect on how to live with more purpose. How can synchronizing this authentic energy with another person help heal a broken mind, body, and spirit?

Dr. Lissa: In my first TEDx talk, I introduced a radical new wellness model, which I also discuss in my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself . The wellness model is based on a “cairn,” those stacks of balanced stones you tend to see marking trails and sacred landmarks. In the “Whole Health Cairn” wellness model, the foundation is not the body, as it is in so many wellness models that suggest that a healthy body is a prerequisite for a healthy life. Instead, I think the foundation is the part of you I call your “Inner Pilot Light.” Call it your intuition, your inner doctor, or your highest self, this part of you always knows what’s true for you, even if the rest of you may not want to face your personal truth because it often commands change, and change scares us.

Your Inner Pilot Light is always radiant, never extinguished, 100% authentic, and will never lead you astray. I help people tap in to their Inner Pilot Light here, but as healers, I believe that’s one of the most essential parts of our jobs, not to dictate what our patients should do or prescribe the one and only way to optimal health, but to help our patients tap in to their own unique Inner Pilot Light, so they can make treatment and life decisions that are in alignment with the core of who they are. When you make decisions from this place of truth, the body tends to naturally come back in to alignment with its natural state of health.

Read the rest of the interview on my website, DrHyman.com!

Wordplay Wednesday: Good

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I always gravitated
To the girl
With purple hair
Eccentric style
And an attitude
Like she didn’t care
I acted like I wish I felt
So strong
And self-assured
To cover insecurities
Skin too thin
For this world
But now
I just want to be good

I never liked to listen
Or be told what to do
Parents
Coaches
Teachers
Boyfriends
It didn’t matter who
You were or what you said
I’d still do it my own way
Always stating my opinion
Never short for things to say
But now
I  just want to be good

I always gravitated
To the boy who sat alone
With darkness and intensity
That seemed to match my own
We’d stay up for hours talking
About our passions and dreams
Play our favorite songs
And get lost by any means
But now
I  just want to be good

Written in November of 2011:)

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