Tag Archives: happiness

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 . . .

3 Ways Our Own Goals Make Us Unhappy

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Setting goals for ourselves is what keeps us moving forward. It’s what creates innovation, growth, and is the reason we pursue anything new. We set a goal and work to reach it. In and of itself, goal-setting is positive. But if we don’t fully understand all that is involved in creating and achieving our goals we can easily sabotage the process.

Fortunately, this is a mindset that we can change, and here are 3 key points to remember: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Clean House

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I am never five minutes into stripping the clutter from my life before I start running into
the clutter that is my life.
-Robert Brault

It’s funny how our home space says so much about our brain space. For some, the clutter in their brain is the opposite of their spotless home. For others, the exact opposite. For still others, the clutter they feel is exactly the picture you discover when you enter their living space. Sometimes the overwhelming feeling can feel very debilitating. Sometimes it’s the weight that keeps you from feeling like you can dive into something new. There is something important about the practice of deciding what needs to move forward with you and what needs to be let go that extends beyond just getting rid of stuff.  Either way, cleaning house figuratively and literally is a great task to take on as you prepare for a new year!

Our intent of the day is to clean house! Thinking about it? Here’s why it’s good for you! Continue reading

Five Reasons to Smile… A lot!

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“You always look happy.” One of my neighbors said this to me once while out walking my dogs. Guess I was caught smiling again.

A smile can make a positive impact in any situation. It’s contagious. This is something we need to remember now that the holidays are here. You can enjoy those holiday parties and meals more by simply smiling.

The holidays are an opportunity to help reinforce the values and beliefs that are important to us. Yet many people feel overwhelmed and complain that they just want to survive the holidays. That’s a red-flag that values are taken for granted and you should adjust the traditions that have been set.

Even if you don’t feel “it” or aren’t in the moment, the simple act of smiling can change that perspective. Who cares if your Aunt Betty brings a casserole dish over for Christmas dinner that you won’t eat and find kind of gross? Focus on the good things happening. It’s best to just smile and be thankful for the moment to be there together. Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Settle with Gratitude

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Feeling anxious? It’s no surprise. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the most common mental illness. The likelihood that you or someone you know is battling with some form of it, especially as the holidays approach, is tremendous. If it is part of your life, perhaps the holidays have become a mixed blessing of happy memories and a struggle to keep your feelings at bay. Knowing that so much can contribute to anxiety, we want to start by developing a practice of combating it with the simple and beautiful act of gratitude.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Fun in the Moment

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Happy Halloween! Today is a day full of fun and whimsy and maybe a little too much chocolate. You’ll find out which coworkers are clever and which ones think “office worker” is a cool costume. You’ll hopefully get to see babies dressed as all varieties of zoo animals and Stranger Things characters. And maybe crowds stress you out or Halloween is not our favorite, but we hope that today, you take a moment to enjoy a little reprieve from your everyday routine for even the smallest silliness. Our intent is to find the fun in the moment.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Happiness in the Unexpected

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If you want to be happy, be.
-Leo Tolstoy

Our intent today involves retraining our mind and refocusing our eyes.
If we want to be happy, then it is our job to look for that and find it within ourselves.
So our intent today is to do just that. We want to find happiness in the unexpected.
In the last minute coffee date with a friend.
In the surprisingly good parking spot.
In the upcoming appointment with a really great specialist.
In the unexpected 5 minutes of quiet.
Let yourself be surprised with happiness and look for it in the things you’re flying past.
Find it where you’re least expecting.

Looking for happiness too? We have 3 resources to help: Continue reading

Delighting Your Heart: How to Easily Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness (and Six Reasons You Want to)

A photo by Aidan Meyer. unsplash.com/photos/MApzyeDS-gM

My need for external reassurance as a woman came home to me many birthdays ago. I decided to test everyone (especially Honey) by making no reference to my personal holiday during the entire month of January. The results were devastating. Not a single soul—parent, child, sister, friend, husband (gasp)—remembered. The red-letter day came and went without a whimper. Now, before you scream “Revolution!” (which I came close to doing at the time) let me add this: Honey was under huge pressure at work, serving tirelessly at church, and acutely worried over finances. He comforted, cuddled, and counseled with tenderness. It’s just that his calendar was off.

When I realized that accusation would never produce a bottle of perfume, the truth hit me like a whiff of cheap cologne: I had been thinking for too long that it was my guy’s primary job in life to make me feel good, to heal all my wounds, to spend every possible minute with me, to be emotionally available and responsive 24/7, to always want what I want. I had set myself up for disillusionment.

Thankfully, I wised up and made a course correction that stuck. My birthday is now advertised far and wide and way in advance. I am responsible to ask for and inspire special attention on January 27. Healthy, balanced doses of giving and receiving from family, friends, God, and myself, keeps my tank full. His three little words (“I love you”) then top me off and overflow into a puddle at our feet.

And that’s the secret. Fill your own tank by taking responsibility for your own happiness.

There is a simple way to get started, or continue, in the habit of filling your own tank so that you can give from abundance while receiving with confidence. I don’t mean to make it sound easy—we are talking about the greatest challenge of a woman’s life, the seesaw between nurturing herself and nurturing others—but I know you can do it.

Here’s how: Continue reading

PERFECTION

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Hello all!  Today I want to talk about the topic of perfection.  As codependents and love addicts, we have striven for perfection constantly, only to be disappointed when our expectations were not met.  Whether it was someone else we were trying to impress or just ourselves, we were hard on ourselves for not executing it perfectly.

We don’t have to be hard on ourselves.  Nobody in this world is perfect!  We seem to hear that from people all the time, but the struggle is in understanding and really believing it.

We look at other peoples’ lives, especially with social media, and they seem to have it all – jobs, families, houses, vacations, and happiness.  But there is so much of peoples’ lives that we do not see, and each person has their struggles.  Truly, nobody is perfect. Continue reading

15 Things Emotionally Fit People Practice

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Do you know an emotionally fit person? Emotionally fit people are often viewed as the “go to” person, a leader, someone others can depend upon. They can handle challenging situations with inner strength, wisdom and insight. They are well respected by others and can appropriately handle conflict. Are you emotionally fit?

15 Things The Emotionally Fit Person Practices: Continue reading

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