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In general, I’m a fan of using milestone days to prompt me to think about changes I might undertake to make myself happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative.
Certain days, such as January 1 or my birthday, remind me to reflect on my life and my hopes for the future. Recently, Inauguration Day prompted me to think about the highest ideals of the United States, and how I can live up to them, in my own life.
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7 Types of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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1. Remind yourself of reasons to be grateful. When things look really dark, it’s hard to feel grateful, but remembering what’s good in your life can help put problems into perspective. I have a friend who recently suffered a big disappointment at work. She said to me, “As long as my family is healthy, I can’t get too upset about anything.” This may sound like hackneyed advice, but it’s really true.
2. Remember your body. Take a twenty-minute walk outside to boost your energy and dissolve stress. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Get enough sleep. Manage pain. When you’re anxious, it’s easy to stay up late and eat ice cream — and that’s going to make you feel worse in the long run. It’s very tempting to run yourself ragged trying to deal with a crisis, but in the long run, you just wear yourself out.
3. Do something fun. Temporarily distract yourself from the stress, and re-charge your battery, with an enjoyable activity. Watching a funny movie is a reliable way to give yourself a pleasant break, and listening to your favorite music is one of the quickest ways to change your mood. When my older daughter was in the intensive-care unit as a newborn, my husband dragged me off to a movie one afternoon — and that few hours of distraction made me much better able to cope with the situation. Be careful, however, not to “treat” yourself by doing something that’s eventually going to make you feel worse (taking up smoking again, drinking too much, indulging in retail therapy). My comfort-food activity is reading children’s literature.
4. Take action. If you’re in a bad situation, take steps to bring about change. If you’re having trouble with your new boss, you could decide to try to transfer. Or you could change your behavior. Or you could find ways to pay less attention to your boss. Ask yourself, “What exactly is the problem?” It’s astounding to me that often, when I take time to identify a problem exactly, a possible solution presents itself.
5. Look for meaning. Re-frame an event to see the positive along with the negative. Maybe getting fired will give you the push you need to move to the city where you’ve always wanted to live. Maybe your illness has strengthened your relationships with your family. You don’t need to be thankful that something bad has happened, but you can try to find positive consequences even in a catastrophic event.
6. Connect with friends and family. Strong relationships are a KEY to happiness, so fight the impulse to isolate yourself. Show up. Make plans. Ask for help, offer your help to others. Or just have some fun (see #3) and forget your troubles for a while.
7. Make something better. If something in your life has gotten worse, try to make something else better – and it doesn’t have to be something important. Clean a closet. Organize your photographs. Work in the yard.
8. Act toward other people the way you wish they’d act toward you. If you wish your friends would help you find someone to date, see if you can fix up a friend. If you wish people would help you find a job, see if you can help someone else find a job. If you can’t think of a way to help someone you know, do something generous in a more impersonal way. For instance: commit to being an organ donor! When you’re feeling very low, it can be hard to muster the energy to help someone else, but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Do good, feel good; it really works.
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Just take a look at the Japanese emperor caterpillar! they’re sure to cheer you up! they’re happy to see anyone!
These guys really love to peek, and their cute horns make it all the more better!
Soon. they actually just mean that hugs are coming to you soon, there’s nothing to worry about~
They’re also very silly.
What do you mean I can’t listen to leaf?
They’re also very little but still love meeting new friends!
Look at this tiny one, stepping into the world to start peeking!
Tiny peekers in training! they’re doing well.
Need I mention cat ears?
When you’re feeling sad, just think about these emperor caterpillars. they’d probably love to peek and see a pretty human with a smile on it’s face.
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The disappointment will feel permanent because we think that how we perceive things is fixed. We can change our mind and ultimately our perspective about something, whenever we feel like it. It’s that willingness to let go of thinking that doesn’t truly serve us because it ultimately limits and stifles us.
Letting go is a decision. Thinking something else is a decision. We have to choose and keep choosing.
In accepting my disappointment, I acknowledged how I felt, what I thought and what I’d been doing. These disappointments felt bad because I was reopening old wounds and telling me all sorts of bad things about myself that just weren’t true. I was attached to feeling bad about me. Disappointment gave me a purpose. I learned a lot about me by accepting the disappointment. It wasn’t pretty at times but you know what? It was better than the torment of giving myself a hard time over not being able to control the uncontrollable or even worse, doing the equivalent of throwing tantrums.
Disappointment is a very real feeling but don’t let it claim you. Some disappointments you learn to live with and they gradually stop dominating your thoughts and conversations. Others just fade out because in treating you well, that balm soothes the hurt and you become open to better days and things ahead.
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Your challenge for the weekend:
Take 10-15 minutes this weekend and make a list of all those feel goods.
Whether it was from decades past, or even a few months ago.
Make a list of amazing comfort moments that you can come back to when life feels chaotic and overwhelming.
Then make a list of ideas and things you can do in your life NOW to comfort yourself even more.
I’ve even created a worksheet you can use
A few things to consider as you get started:
Comfy and cozy have a few elements that make them so wonderful.
All credits to Sarah Steckler
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