Category: self-help

Practicing Gratitude

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” -Zig Ziglar

Building a practice of gratitude and positive thinking is easy for some people, but for others, it is a struggle. It may be challenging to break the habit of looking at life through a pessimistic perspective at this particular moment in time, as the world grapples with a pandemic and social unrest. However, through consciousness and practice you can change that. When your thoughts begin to move towards the positive spectrum, your eyes will naturally open to gratitude. In other words, it is almost impossible to be a negative thinker and have gratitude.

To grow your gratitude, look at how you feel about yourself and the people in your life. Do you gravitate towards trust, kindness, doing the right thing? How is your self-esteem? When you feel good about yourself, you can feel good about others. Positive thinking begins from within. If this is a battle for you, try repeating affirmations. Veer away from overly critical people in your life. Read uplifting material that encourages you and allows you to let go of fear. Recognize negative thoughts as soon as they pop up. Focus on your breathing, consciously slow it down and imagine with each exhale, you release negativity.

Implement noticing all the little things that are good about your day, your life. To change the hole in the bucket syndrome (no matter how much you have it’s never enough) redirect your focus to what you do have. Health, friends, a flower growing in your yard, your loving pets, two hands, a working mind. Make a gratitude list.  Once you get started you will see there is a lot to be thankful for!

Gratitude is active. It champions goodness, sincerity, earnestness and is meant to be shared with others. The more you give it away, the more it is like the one seed that grows into a field of flowers. Walk away from anything or anyone that is toxic in your life. You don’t need it. Most people that are negative about others are expressing their feelings about themselves

Positive thinking and gratitude reinforce each other. As your gratitude grows your belief in the goodness of others and the universe grows. From that point of view positive thinking is only natural.

This may sound sharp, but when you indulge a pity party for too long you may forget that you can leave at any time. Life is made of ups and downs, ride them out and learn the lessons. Let go, and move onward, don’t overly chastise yourself for mistakes. If you got a raw deal, it more than likely had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. Realize the good in a bad situation, things could always be worse. Find those little thank goodness’s that didn’t happen and be grateful. Practicing gratitude during difficulties builds stamina and helps you grow stronger and more positive.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu This is a simple, yet profound reminder of being awake, being mindful. Paying attention to positive thinking, words, and actions has a ripple effect and over time influences every aspect of your life. When your inner dialogue begins to judge, complain, or criticize yourself or others, stop them in their tracks. Gently remind yourself, that you are learning to practice positive thinking and gratitude.

Gratitude begets gratitude. The more you express it through actions, the bigger it becomes. Be grateful for the lessons learned while you worked through a challenge, gratitude comes in many shapes and sizes. Practice acts of kindness, smile more, say hello, receive the day with an open heart thankful for another chance to learn and love. Then watch as your positive grateful living, blossoms into powerful changes.

 

 


Stress & Strengthening Relationships

 

There is no time like the present to learn to manage change in a relationship. This year has been riddled with changes (social, economic, technological and personal) that have been challenging to say the least. All changes impact a relationship. Learning to go with the flow, and adjust when life happens, will help you be less fearful when change comes knocking on your door.

Relationships need a strong foundation from which to grow. If your relationship is already tumultuous, working through change can be tough. Building a base of trust in your relationship early on is the way to go. If this hasn’t happened, now is a perfect time to start. Talk issues and disagreements throughlisten to each otherbe kind, and remember love is powerful; it has the capacity to endure. And most important to building trust, is to mean what you say and say what you mean. Be honest, even if the truth is not what your partner wants to hear.

During stressful changes, a move, a new baby, a death in the family, a new job; lather on patience extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you may want to talk about how or why you react the way you do, talk about the hurts, fears and insecurities that shape your reactions. This alone can help relieve a lot of the stress.

Stay physical with each other, and that doesn’t mean just having sex. Hold hands, snuggle, touch each other as a physical symbol that you are here, and you are ready to grow as a couple. Often change can produce resentment which can bleed into the bedroom. Allow yourself the pleasure of sharing one another’s bodies, let your guard down and re-connect. If you are both spiritual or religious, try praying and meditating together, do some yoga together. Share any inspirational gems that speak to you with your partner. Send kind texts, remind your partner that you love them. Life as a couple is sweeter when you know your partner has your back, that you are not alone and that your loved one is rooting for you in and outside of the relationship.

Do something familiar. It can be as simple as having coffee together in the morning. Find a thread of familiarity you both enjoy. Talk about funny memories, leap off the overly stressed, serious bandwagon and find time to get back to the essence of your relationship. Change will come; learning to deal with it together will make life richer while deepening your relationship and better prepared for the inevitable changes to come.

 

 

 

 


 The Art of Giving without Attachment

 

Have you ever done a kind deed simply for the sake of giving without any strings attached or payback considered?  Have you given away something of value to a stranger or given of your time without expecting any financial reward?  These are just a few examples of practicing the art of giving without attachment. What does giving without attachment really mean and why should you cultivate this practice?

The very definition of giving, freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone) has an inherently detached quality. There is an innate sense of letting go, the opposite of hoarding or holding on. But how often is our giving calculated?  Well if I babysit for a friend, she/he will do the same for me.  Giving without any expectation of outcome or praise is tough, but that is the essence of giving without attachment. Giving to grow your heart, to release your grip, to become liberated from that which you hold on to.

How does giving without strings liberate and grow your ability to love and to live a more meaningful life?  It connects you to your humanity, to your empathy, to your ability to see the suffering in others and feel something.  Giving also helps you to step outside your sphere and to connect with others on a visceral level.

Giving without attachment is a wonderful way to help you accept when others give to you.  Often, our childhood dictates a message of receiving that it’s better to give than receive, but if everyone is clamoring to give, who is receiving?  That message sends a negative image that receiving is for the poor, the needy, the weak, and the unsuccessful.  We all have times in our life when we want to receive.  Giving without attachment helps us to receive without feeling guilty or shamed.

Anne Frank, a diarist and one of the most talked about victims of the Holocaust once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”  It is often difficult in the modern world to remember this.  When you give, it does not have to be a thing or financial, (you can give of your time, your silent presence, a smile) you reap the internal rewards of connection, joy, and self esteem.  Giving builds character and helps you get outside of your own needs and desires and consider others.  When you give freely, you teach yourself a lesson in being unconditional.

Giving without attachment does not mean giving everything away and doing without.  It may entail digging a little deeper than merely skimming off the top. If you only give away your excess, you may want to look at other ways you can give. Become a mentor. Take a friend to lunch, just because or send a card without an occasion. Bake a dinner for a charity event, make an anonymous donation to a cultural or educational organization or slip a bill to a homeless person.

Think of all the people in your life that have given something to you without any expectation.  There are countless ways to pass on that giving tradition, and when you begin to drop the attachments and expected outcomes, you send a ripple of hope into the world, while expanding your ability to be a loving considerate human being.

 

 

 


Practicing Gratitude & Positive Thinking

 

 

 

Building a practice of gratitude & positive thinking is easy for some, but for others, it can be a struggle. If you were raised with an abundance of negativity, it might be challenging to break the habit of looking at life through a pessimistic perspective. However, through conscious choice & practice, you can change that. As your thoughts begin to move toward the positive spectrum, your eyes will naturally open to gratitude. It’s almost impossible to be a negative thinker and have gratitude!

To grow your gratitude, look at how you feel about yourself & the people in your life. Do you gravitate toward trust, kindness, doing the right thing? How is your self-esteem? When you feel good about yourself, you can feel good about others as well! Positive thinking begins from within. If this is a battle for you, try:

  • Repeating affirmations
  • Veering away from overly critical people in your life
  • Reading uplifting material that encourages you & allows you to let go of fear & self-condemnation
  • Replacing negative thoughts as soon as they pop up
  • Focusing on your breathing, consciously slowing it down & imagining that with each exhale, you release negativity
  • Acknowledging the little things that are good about your day & your life

To change the hole in the bucket syndrome (when you seem to never have enough), redirect your focus to what you do have. Your health, friends, a flower growing in your yard, loving pets, two hands, a working mind. Once you begin, you’ll see there’s a lot to be thankful for!

Gratitude is active; it champions goodness, sincerity & earnestness & is meant to be shared with others. The more you give it away, the more it’s like the one seed that grows into a field of flowers – it’s self-perpetuating. Similar to positive thinking, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Positive thinking allows you to fail & to try again. It encourages you to grow into your best self & walk away from anything or anyone toxic in your life. Most people who are negative about others are projecting their own inner fears.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This may sound harsh or simple; however, when you sit on the pity pot too long, you get stuck. Life is made of ups and downs, ride them out & learn the lessons. Let go & move onward. Don’t overly chastise yourself for mistakes. Realize the good in a bad situation. Find those little “thank goodness that didn’t happen” & be grateful. Yes, it’s terrible you lost your job, but you still have all your body parts, move on. Practicing gratitude during difficulties builds stamina & helps you grow stronger & more positive.


“Parenting”

 

 

As a parent, you want to do what’s in the best interest of your children. Parents may look for “right” & “wrong” answers about parenting, but is there really a right way to parent?

Bette Davis, regarded as one of the most influential actresses of Hollywood, once said, “If your child has never hated you, you’ve never been a parent.” If you have a toddler who you’ve had to say no to touching a hot stove, you know what she means. In other words, being a parent doesn’t mean winning a popularity contest; it means being present for the good of a child.

An essential part of parenting is helping your child build healthy self-esteem & confidence so that they can become anything they set their minds on. Let’s explore the theories that have endured the test of time to allow for positive, loving, & effective parenting.

ALL CHILDREN ARE UNIQUE / What worked for your first child may not work for baby #2 or #3. In some ways, being a parent is reliving your childhood & recalling what helped you & what hindered you.

YOUR WORDS = YOUR CHILD’S INNER VOICE / Speak with respect & positivity, never lash out in anger. That said, toddlers & teens can fray your patience. Vent, but not on your child. Instead, go to parent groups, have play dates, talk to other mothers & fathers to share & laugh about the challenges you face.

UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR CHILD RESPONDS / Children respond to different parenting styles in different ways. For example, you may have been a bit overly protective of your firstborn – from homemade baby food to only buying interactive toys. With child #2, you may be less particular. Both children turn out fantastic & you begin to realize certain incidentals aren’t as critical as you thought. However, responding to each child as an individual is. Treating children with respect & allowing them to evolve into their own person is essential. It helps them explore themselves without judgment. Notice how they respond to music, movement, nature, reading a book together, & playing with others; this will help inform you of your child’s likes & gifts.

BE AS CONSISTENT AS POSSIBLE / Consistency helps children understand boundaries & feel safe. They learn that hitting is not okay & the consequence is a time out. When they lie, they know they breach your trust, & there’s an aftereffect. Conversely, praise & affirmations light up your child’s potential. When they hear & see positive results, they’re reinforced. As you & your children grow together, consistency helps them understand their environment & make sense of things they don’t yet comprehend.

DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION / Like all of us, children must learn by making mistakes. Have reasonable expectations & cultivate compassion. You can’t expect a 9-month-old to understand why you don’t want them to put everything under the sun in their mouth. Rather than overreacting or labeling your child, escort them through any rough waters. Your job as a parent is guiding them through varying terrain. Some phases are as easy as walking on a beautiful beach, others as difficult as walking through a desert without water. Allow your children (within the confines of safety, of course) to experience life & try out their newly learned skills. It’s through practice & patience they learn to master things. That said, you can encourage older children to be their best & be there to discuss when they are having a rough time.

COMMUNICATE / Spend time talking to your children & laugh with them. There’s no substitute for communication & spending quality time with your kids. It allows you to develop a relationship, a bond, & trust, so when you have to say no, (something all parents do), your children (eventually) realize it comes from a place of love. Don’t feel bad about saying no, explaining your rationale, & giving explanations that your child will understand. Maybe you can’t afford to give them something they want, seize the opportunity to have a conversation about money. Communication is critical to parenting. Keep an open mind without deviating from your standards.

The bottom line is families are made up of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, & cultural influences. You are a wonderful blend. Try not to set limitations. Instead, allow them to grow in ways that may not interest you. You may be a businessperson, & your child is passionate about the arts or vice versa. Be kind to yourself. You’re going to blow it sometimes; it’s part of being human. Be okay with admitting when you are wrong; this is a powerful lesson for your children.

Above all, be loving, kind, & keep growing in your individual life as you parent. Children need you by their side to learn valuable tools about independence; This becomes vital as your children get older. Be okay with no right or wrong way to parent. Be present & open to change. Embrace the principles of being a positive & courageous parent who is doing their best to build a strong foundation for your child’s well-being.


Celebrating the Holidays During a Pandemic

 

As this holiday season ramps up, you and your family may be wondering how to celebrate during a pandemic. Will you travel to see loved ones? Can you gather and commemorate your traditions?
PLAN / Perhaps the first recommendation is to plan ahead to help alleviate stress. That means talking openly about your expectations, your comfort level, and what is feasible for you. Communicating with family members and listening to their concerns is vital.

Assess the risks of gathering with honesty. Are there people in your extended family who are compromised or not comfortable with getting together? There are a lot of things to consider this holiday season. If you’re going to travel, there are both financial and health considerations. You may want to see your family; however, you may not be able to afford the time off or the travel expenses. Be honest with your family. Remember, this pandemic impacts people on many levels. Be open and understanding with yourself and others.

Plan the details as much as possible. Who’s going to host the meals, who’s going to attend? Will people bring their specialty dishes? There might have to be some agreement about isolating (and testing) before the event. Doing this would avoid any controversy about mask-wearing during the gathering. Remember, it’s all an attempt to bring joy and unity to a year that has had (for many) far too little of it.

REMAIN OPEN & EMPATHETIC / If one of your family members has respiratory issues or an immune disorder, they’ll likely be uncomfortable with large gatherings, family, or otherwise. Respect and support their decision, remembering this pandemic won’t last forever. If necessary, remind yourself and others that it’s temporary, and everyone has different comfort levels, different fears, and different health concerns. Now is a great time to practice loving kindness.

VIRTUAL GATHERINGS / If you can’t gather, find other ways to celebrate with your friends and family. Create an online meeting using Zoom or Skype and cook your favorite meal together. In other words, keep your beloved traditions even if you have to modify how you share them.

SNAIL MAIL / Write letters to friends and family expressing your gratitude for their love and tell them specifically how you miss them. Keep the connections alive during the holidays regardless of what’s going on. Step back and breathe into your memories of all the wonderful times you were able to share. Talk about them, laugh or cry, and share these memories.

EXPRESS GRATITUDE / It’s easy during difficult times to forget all that you have. At the same time, remember it is okay to feel sorrow or grief for the way things are. Be grateful for the suffering as it reminds you/us of the power of love and how palpable life is when you bring your awareness to happy times, loving fun time. Write a gratitude list. Begin with the littlest things you are grateful for; the coffee shop with its amazing cappuccinos, the neighbor who always says hello, the car you can get in and drive. Openly thank all of the things that make you smile; music, your pets greeting you when you arrive home, the sound of your name in your significant other’s mouth. In other words, shift your consciousness from your head to your heart.

TAKE A BREATH & STEP BACK / If you’re feeling overwhelmed this holiday season write down what’s essential to you. What can you let go of? Maybe not being able to gather has given you a reprieve from an overbearing family. Use this time to reconstruct the way you’d like to spend your holiday seasons. What rituals and traditions do you want to incorporate or let go of moving forward?
Above all else, the memories you share and the willingness to be together in different ways will keep your heart connected to those you love.


Finding Peace Within

 

 

“Peace Beauty and goodness are always there in each of us”
…Thich Nhat Hanh

This fundamental Buddhist belief professed by the ninety-year-old monk, Thich, Nhat Hanh, has seen him through war, struggle, joy, and injustice. He also proclaims, “peace in oneself, peace in the world.” Research concurs that those of us who can navigate through life with a sense of calm increase our quality of life and are less at the whim and mercy of circumstance. How then do you find the inner beauty and inner peace that is a constant undercurrent flowing beneath the chaotic exterior? When tragedy or sadness strikes, how do we cultivate that comforting sense of serenity?

Finding time to let go of doing, and simply breathing is a way to start. Although your mind will want to distract you with to-do lists or issues to fret over, take it one breath at a time. Perhaps you begin with a moving or walking meditation. There’s no trick or magic. By redirecting your thoughts back to your breath, watching your inhale and exhale, filling up and emptying out, you begin to fall into a rhythm. If a thought tries to lure you away from the breath, let it go as if it were a balloon floating by, don’t attach to it.

Like riding a bike, learning a language, or disciplining a child, consistency matters. Practicing every day, before long, you will begin to look forward to your meditation time. Like returning home after a long journey, it is a place of rest. Often we fall into the “I’m too busy” trap to avoid quiet breathing and silence. Remember the first time you did yoga or went to the gym, or decided to eat healthier? Change is always challenging at first unless you practice it repeatedly. One day you’ll realize you’re no longer thinking about it; you’ve incorporated it. Mindful breathing and meditation are no different, and the rewards you reap far outweigh the time you spend quieting your mind.

We notice the wind out of the stillness, the light from the dark. When we take the time to go inward, we begin to see the current of life become calm. Perhaps you are clinging to fear or anger, and it acts like a barrier stopping your progress towards finding peace? Through the constancy of the breath, begin to notice these emotions, don’t judge them. Then see with each exhale if you can release them to the atmosphere, where they can dissipate like fog burned off by the afternoon sun. Allow yourself time to breathe, and with every inhale, watch how the body fills with nourishing oxygen laden breath. Notice your shoulders, let them relax down your back, unclench your jaw, and unfurrow your brow. Allow the exhale to empty your negative thoughts. Water seeds of compassion with each inhale.

Eventually, spending time in quiet stillness will spill over into every aspect of your life. You’ll feel less anxious in traffic, less upset when someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store, less reactive to the mind’s wanderings. Your ability to focus and concentrate will increase. With today’s world tugging at your attention, being able to direct your attention where you want it to go will allow you to stay in that beautiful place of peace where wisdom and healing reside.


Let’s Ditch the Excuses


If you’re finding more excuses and less movement, it may be time to reframe your thinking. Below you’ll find practical suggestions to overcome this pattern and ditch the excuses. Do you have goals or desires that have gone unfulfilled because you’re chronically stacking excuses in front of them?

Eventually, the excuses become so deep you can’t seem to find a way around them. You circle, burrowing in until you feel stuck with nowhere else to go. Finding your way back to the life you envisioned is no easy task, but if you want to release yourself from the weight of excuses, here are some simple steps you can take to get unstuck:

  • Write down every dream, accomplishment or vision you want to achieve. Don’t think about the obstacles, just free-write, uncensored. Read them aloud to yourself. By articulating your goals, you’ll begin to visualize them. Then decide what your top three priorities are. Which ones do you want to work on immediately? Write them down now! Keep this list in a safe place where you can refer to it.
  • Take the top three and write down any real or imagined obstacles — no babysitter to go to the gym, not enough money for a trip, etc. Create a plan that moves you in the direction of achievement. If you want a new job a
    nd you’ve been saying that it’s not the right time, yet never even look, begin to look. Write a new resume. Find one positive thing you can do that alleviates the obstacle. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. You can take small, consistent steps to get yourself unstuck and moving forward.
  • Make a daily commitment to yourself and do one thing every day that brings you closer to accomplishing your goal. Perhaps less television time, more reading, less loafing on the Internet, more studying or exercising to lose that weight. Start small and keep moving. In other words, heed the Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
  • Find people that will encourage you. Run from the pessimists; you don’t need their negative energy. Listen to inspiring podcasts or talks (ted.com is a great one). Read articles or books that aid in achieving your success. Join support groups that may provide you with valuable information and shared experience that you can utilize on your journey forward.

Take notice of your small successes and applaud yourself. If you begin to slide back into your old excuse making ways, get back on track. Excuses are usually disguising something more profound. Fear, procrastination, and poor self-esteem can all be factors. Be honest with yourself, and address the underlying emotions. Then move beyond them. Over time, you will develop a new habit of not making excuses, but rather setting goals and working towards them, one step at a time.


Let People Know You Love Them

The old saying, “actions speak louder than words,” holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This behavior may come easy to you, or you may struggle with showing your love, & if that’s the case, you’re not alone.

Previous traumas, relationship experiences, & past patterns of how love was modeled to you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those you care for. The good news is, by actively showing love, you’ll receive it back in ways you never expected.

Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. It’s not to say that you neglect yourself. Instead, it’s like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love to you.

  • Kind words
  • Patience when you’re frustrated
  • Listening when you’re happy or sad

In other words, they are there for you. Use these examples to express your love back to them, then try cultivating an appreciation for the little things instead of expecting grandiose gifts as a token of someone’s love. Not that presents are inherently loving or unloving; they’re merely objects, that over time, fade or lose their appeal. Sincere appreciation provides fond memories & strength.

Express your love. Let loved ones know you’re thinking about them, not just on special occasions.

  • Text, write a letter or send a card
  • Call simply to tell them you miss them or love them
  • Let them know you hope their day is going well

It’s thoughtful things like these that reassure the people you care about that you love them. If you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage

  • Buy a random card
  • Cook a dinner complete with candlelight
  • Take the kids for an afternoon so your partner can have some needed alone time

Take time to think of the needs of those you love. This doesn’t mean you can fulfill their every whim or desire. Show your concern for them without it being unhealthy, manipulative, or co-dependent.

Ask them about their day, their desires, their pain, their passions, & then sit back & listen. A big part of expressing love is listening to your beloved. Think of how you feel when you’re not heard. You may feel neglected, ignored, or even unimportant. These aren’t positive feelings that nurture a loving relationship. When you listen with your heart, you begin to understand more fully. Ask what you can do to help. More than likely, knowing that you’re there to support through active listening is enough.

If you have a concern or hurt feeling, express yourself. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to resentment, which won’t help. If you’re fearful about something, be honest, let go of your pride, & don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. When you’re transparent with your emotions, you’re showing the person you love that you trust them with your whole heart & it’s a powerful example that your loved one can reciprocate, letting go of pretenses & being real. This is fertile ground for growing love.
Let your loved one know when you miss them, whether it’s physical yearn or something more ethereal. Maybe one of you has been traveling for work, or you live apart from each other. Perhaps you miss laughing with them, or riding bikes together or having sex, let them know what it is you miss & not in an accusatory way. Simply say, I miss …

Tell people you love & you’re grateful for them. Whether they’re a sibling, a parent, or a lover, let them know you appreciate them & why.

 


RELIEVING LONELINESS THROUGH CONNECTION

 

Feeling lonely & being alone are polar opposites. Spending time alone affords you enormous benefits like the opportunity to contemplate, sort through thoughts, & calm your mind from the daily barrage of stimuli, which in turn settles the nervous system. Loneliness involves a sense of isolation regardless if there are hundreds of people around you. Think the tips below can be helpful to someone else? Pass it along!

Try out these six techniques & discover how to feel less alone

  • LOG OFF & TUNE OUT – Get out of the house & see people face to face rather than on Facebook or Instagram. Studies show that too many hours on our computers & phones are detrimental to our mental & physical health, if not tempered with real-time contact with others. So next time you go for a walk, turn your phone off & notice all that is swirling around you. Get out of your head & dive in with your five senses. Refresh your ability to feel alive & notice the people around you.

 

  • TALK TO PEOPLE – Yes, that means strangers as well. You’d surprised how many other people feel as much as you do. Take a risk & say hello to the woman at the park who is also alone with her kids in the morning. When taking public transit, strike up a conversation. I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories while riding the subway. Had I been on my phone, I would have never made the connection. When you’re standing in a line at the store, chat with the person behind you, say hello to the cashier. All of these interactions build your sense of community & allows you to feel a part of something. Get to know the names of the people who work at the places you frequent. If the thought of talking to strangers is terrifying, a simple hello with a smile will erode awkwardness over time & leave you feeling less bashful.

 

  • GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS – This may be a real tough one for many, but studies have suggested, getting to know people in your immediate community provides a feeling of safety * can bring new friendships as well. Rather than running in the house double-locking the door and shutting the blinds, take time to say hi to the guy next door or the woman across the street. Before long, you will be enjoying a newfound sense of community. Getting to know even the annoying neighbors, may pave the way for negotiations.

 

  • CALL PEOPLE & MAKE PLANS – Be an instigator for getting together even if it’s simply for coffee or a glass of wine. Rather than feeling lonely, reach out to people & perhaps invite them over or suggest doing something together. Go on a hike or walk or anything that builds a connection with the other person. Adopt more of a dolce vita attitude, in other words, live as if you’re in Italy where there are no to-go cups. Take time to indulge your relationships, they’re as important to living a healthy life as breathing clean air. It’s not a waste of time to sit with a friend & simply catch up or indulge in conversation. Just like a job, you want to invest time into relationships to make them fulfilling.

 

  • BE HONEST WITH OTHERS – Let people know when you’re feeling lonely. You’d be shocked at how many are right there with you!  Drag your loneliness into the light of day & talk about it openly. Many of us feel lonely at different stages of life. Perhaps you’re a new mother & on maternity leave. Your partner & friends are at work all day so you begin to feel isolated. Be honest with yourself & seek other women in the same boat. If you just moved to a different country or state or switched jobs, take the time to introduce yourself & explain that you’re new. Begin to see where you can fit in, chat with co-workers ask about local spots that deserve checking out. Over time, you’ll build mutual camaraderie. Whenever we’re honest about our emotions, we sow the seeds of sincere relationships that leave you with a true confidant as well as a friend.

 

  • GET INVOLVED – Join a group of moms & kids at the park for playdates or even a political cause or enroll in an Improv class. Look to your interests as a source for finding meaningful relationships. Maybe you’re seeking spiritual insight, search for a church, synagogue or temple that speaks your spiritual language. Investigate how you can become involved. Volunteering is another excellent way to make lasting connections by surrounding yourself with others who are also passionate about the same issue.

 

Implement a few of these suggestions to reduce feelings of loneliness & begin to give yourself the gift of connecting with others—you deserve it!