Tag Archives: lonely

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

3267049486_bce4b38cba_bOne major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider: Continue reading

The Overflow: Mentoring and Being Mentored

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I live in Los Angeles, California.

It is one of the most populated cities in the US and at the same time, it’s common to hear how lonely it can get. So many people and yet you still feel like a ghost.

Los Angeles isn’t the only place prone to making us feel like singular units. Maybe it’s this era that we live in. We have so much simulated connectivity through social media and email that it’s easy to assume we’re engaging with humans when in actuality all those things happen in the midst of our schedules and timelines. So what options are there to keep from being an island unto ourselves?

Something I believe in wholeheartedly is that we should both be being poured into and that we should be pouring out. Think of it in a three-part structure:

-There are mentors who pour into us. Ideally this includes people you can actually reach out and contact. Look for people a little further down the road you’re on, meaning they might be a mom with older kids than your own, or they might be someone in upper level management within your career field. They are the people who have wisdom to share about the direction you’re headed. That being the case, you can also be mentored by people you don’t know. Some of the best advice I’ve received came from blogs, podcasts and books of people I respect like Seth Godin or Bob Goff. You might never meet them in real life but you also don’t have to wait for permission to learn from them.

-There are contemporaries who are on this road with us. Look for people who are in your same place whether that’s age-wise or stage-wise. Is there a writer’s group you can join? A mommy group? A business breakfast? Look for opportunities where you can intentionally mingle with some people who can speak into your life from the same angle. It’s a way that you can gauge whether your experiences are actually as unusual as you think they are (they normally aren’t).

-There are mentees who we pour into. In the same way that we are seeking people to pour into us, there are people who are just getting started down the path we’re on. They’re looking for someone just a little ahead of them and there’s a good chance you are that person. So don’t forget to be aware of people who may be seeking you out. At a certain point sponges get so full that they stop being able to absorb water and in the same way, it is good for us humans to be wringing out some of what we’ve collected. I’m not meaning that you assume every person wants your sage-like advice. Just know that you are not the end of the road on the information train. Keep an eye out for who’s behind you. Who is new at your office? Maybe it’s a younger sibling, niece or nephew.

The idea is that in the overflow of your life, things start to make sense. It is in this cascade model that we get the chance to see just how much life is coming and going from us. When we’re alone, we get this feeling of stagnation. What are we here for? What is the purpose of me? But when you are actively seeking mentors, when you are active in mentoring, you are part of a flow, a rhythm. It combats the lie that you are by yourself. It gives you a starting place to develop relationships. It reminds you that not every person is meant to be a part of your life and that’s totally normal and okay.

So who are they?
Who are your mentors?
Who are your contemporaries?
Who are you mentoring?

From Intent.com: You Are Not Alone

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

The thing they don’t tell you about getting older is how hard it is to maintain relationship. As a grade-school child, you’re in a room with 25 other kids your same age from your neighborhood and for roughly eight months, you have built in best friends. That’s how it goes for 13 years or so and then you slowly add more and more people until you realize, unless you’re intentional, you might not know anyone.

I can’t name one person I met in college. Seriously.

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As an adult, I’ve learned that if I want to have more than surface-level friendships, I’m going to have to put in the extra effort. I don’t know that I’ll ever find the consistency I had in grade school. I work from home. I’m a single adult. If I want friendships, I have to make them a priority. Here are some best practices I’ve collected over the past years:

1. Don’t expect your friends to be psychic. I’m not even sure the people advertising themselves to be psychics are psychics, but we expect our friends to know when we’re sad or sick or feeling left out. While you don’t want to end up in a one-sided relationship, involvement with another person is always going to require putting yourself out there in some form. If you’re feeling blue, invite a friend to dinner. Decide you aren’t going to let it ruin your night if they aren’t available. Maybe think of 3 or 4 people to ask just in case. The point is just to get some quality time!

2. Know what you love. It can be really frustrating hanging out with people who love football to watch football if you don’t love football. Who’s fault is it really? If they know they love football, they are only being authentic to what they love. What do YOU love? If it’s not football, that’s totally fine! Is it hiking? Is it crafting? Is it going to concerts? The more you know about what you love, the easier it is to find your tribe or to invite people into experiences with you versus always feeling like you’re tagging along with someone else. It’s no one else’s job to find out what you love so take the time to really think about it and then share it!

3. Reconnect. There has to be some advantage to all the social media we’re glued to these days. Maybe it’s an opportunity to reach out to family or friends you lost touch with long ago. Upon moving to LA last year, I reconnected with one of those grade school friends I mentioned after I noticed on Facebook that she’d also moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college in Texas. We sent a couple of emails back and forth and scheduled lunch. It was a little nerve-wracking walking up to the restaurant. Would it be weird? Would we even have anything in common anymore? But, from the moment we sat down at the table, it was as if we had never missed a day!

 

It’s hard to be vulnerable. It’s hard to say “I feel alone” because it means you want people around and so much of society these days says you’re weak if you need people. To that I say the world isn’t big enough for everyone to have their own islands, so community has to happen. I also think that some of our best refining comes in the context of community.

It is where we learn to be selfless and also to stand up for ourselves.
It is where we learn to love ourselves and also to put others first.
It is where we learn what hills we want to die on.
It is where we learn the value of “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Those seem like worthy lessons.

So, don’t forget.
You are not alone.
You’re here and I’m here and so we can go ahead and put the notion that you’re alone to sleep.
You are not hopeless.
You are not unworthy of love.
I can say that with full confidence because your heart is beating.
So get out there!
A lonely someone is waiting on your friendship.

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