When You Feel Alone

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In our world of constant connection to all things electronic, it may seem peculiar that many people feel isolated and alone. A recent study by health insurer Cigna revealed that nearly half of all Americans feel lonely, and 54% responded that they feel like no one actually knows them well.

Loneliness is different than being alone, as we all need some healthy “alone time” now and then. A sense of loneliness is more of a deep aching that people experience when they feel disconnected, disengaged or detached from others.

Most people experience loneliness at times, but few talk about it or address how to push through it. Let’s consider a few principles that can help us move from a mood of isolation to a place of connection once again.

Mind Games. When a person feels alone, there are often thoughts that tend to be replayed in their mind. Thoughts like:

  • No one understands me.
  • No one cares about me
  • No one sees life the same way I do.

While each of us are unique individuals and have  different life experiences, there is actually nothing new under the sun. Don’t buy into the lie that no one understands or cares or that no one has ever experienced similar circumstances. It is time to weed out the old messages you are telling yourself and start planting new ones like:

  • There are other people who understand.
  • There are people in my community who care.
  • There are people who have gone through similar situations.

Change your thought patterns and slowly bring hope into the structure of your daily thinking.

Simple Action Points. When we feel lonely, it is easy to accept the invitation to our own pity-party, but that’s one party invitation we need to decline. We must choose to slowly and surely step forward and get out of our funk. Here are some practical ways to do just that:

  • Volunteer at a place you feel passionate about
  • Join an organization, club or support group
  • Go to church and join a small group or Bible study
  • Reach out to people you know who need encouragement or help from you
  • Pay attention to lonely people at work or in your community – be their friend

Take an honest look at yourself. There is always room for self-improvement, and we can make positive changes in our lives. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.

  • Am I always negative?
  • Do I complain too much?
  • Am I bitter?
  • Do I discourage others rather than lift them up?
  • Do I need to forgive someone and open back up the door of friendship?
  • Am I typically thinking or talking about myself?
  • Do I sincerely care and love others or am I just concerned about what people think about me?

As you answer these questions honestly about yourself, you may realize you need a turning point to go in a new direction. Start by being grateful (counting your blessings every day) and focusing on the needs of others. Guard against complaining and grumbling, and speak only kind words about others.

Less Online, More Real Time. Online connections can’t take the place of real human connection. We need eye contact and touch. We need to hear the intonation and sound of people’s voices to understand and feel understood. Online connections loose many of the non-verbal cues essential to relationships. Sometimes in our own families, surrounded by people, we can feel lonely because we are engrossed in our electronic devices. Be deliberate about putting down the electronics, so that you can truly communicate with the people around you. Meal times especially should be “No Phone Zones.”

Proactively Deepen Connections. There are simple actions we can take to strengthen and deepen our relationships. Never underestimate the power of eye contact. Pay attention to the people you are talking to and actively listen by asking questions to learn more about their thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams. Stop looking away from each other and start looking toward each other.

Remember you are not alone. Possibly one of the most comforting statements ever uttered is “God is with you.” He is a constant source of comfort and strength to our tired and weary souls. He loves you and will never leave you. He created us for connection. We can ask Him to guide us and show us how to be a good friend to others. He can open our eyes to the people we should reach out to and give us the grace and love to connect in a deeper way.

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Life and Liberty

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As we close out the week of Independence Day, let’s take some time to reflect on what it means to live in a free country. Truly we are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy –  the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But with freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility to live with:

  • Integrity to do the right thing.
  • Wisdom to always tell the truth.
  • Compassion and kindness toward every person.

Our society functions best when we choose to live respectfully and responsibly in regards to others. Ultimately, the greatest statement of respect and responsibility was spoken by the One who sacrificed His life for our freedom. Simply put, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Life tends to fall into place when we have these priorities in place.

My fellow writer and Baylor Bear, Ben Hagins, poetically put it this way:

This week we celebrate

The Fourth of July

To enjoy our freedoms

But let me ask why

 

Did so many go before us

And serve the country they love?

To protect our liberties

So we can worship the One above

 

Who gives us a choice

To pursue any quest,

With a mission and a goal

Of having happiness.

 

Now the privileges we have

Mean we can’t do just anything.

Put your God first, and others second.

You’ll be happy when freedom rings.

Ben Hagins, Woodway, Texas

 

May each of us live with love, joy and passion as we enjoy freedom and embrace responsibility.

Your “Most Treasured” List

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What are some of the things you treasure most in life? For me, it’s time with family and friends. I treasure times of laughter and shared life experiences. I treasure the relationship I have with the Lord – His presence, His grace, His salvation and His Truth. I treasure wisdom, realizing it is one of the most valuable pursuits in life. I treasure taking long walks with my husband, savoring a good book and enjoying a little bit of alone time to write.

What about you? What would be on your “Most Treasured” list?

All too often we rush through our days, without really considering what it is that makes our heart feel rich and full. I believe It’s important to consider what we treasure, because it helps us think through our priorities and what we want to pursue in life. Sometimes it is difficult to identify what we value most in life. It takes contemplation, thoughtfulness and prayer.

This week, take some time to create your list. Perhaps it will make you want to readjust some priorities or re-look at some of the reasons why you treasure what you do. Let’s not assume that everything we treasure is necessarily best for our life. Maybe there’s a few things we shouldn’t treasure so much – areas that may have gotten our lives a little out of balance.

I also want to encourage you to start a discussion this week with those who are close to you, and ask them what they treasure in life. It will allow you to enter their world and open your understanding of their heart’s desires.

Finally, let’s reflect on what Jesus said about treasures.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21

What does Jesus mean by treasures in heaven? Ponder and reflect on His words this week, and ask Him to guide you as you consider what it means to lay up true and lasting treasures.

Truly Positive

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Over the last three weeks, we have examined a variety of qualities which positive people exhibit in their lives. These are simple and genuine characteristics of people who tend to look at the brighter side of life and also bring joy into the lives of others.

It’s easy to assume that positive people are insincere or fake, but my hope is that after joining me on this True Positive journey, you will discover that anyone (even the cup-half-empty people) can become sincerely positive. I want to encourage you over the next few months to take each of these 21 qualities and examine them. Choose one or two that you recognize you need to apply to your life, and be deliberate about living it out each day. Below, you will find a list of all the qualities for quick reference. Let me know which ones have impacted you personally. Stay positive my friend!

  • Focus
  • Being Real
  • Hope
  • Health
  • Thankfulness
  • Faith
  • Prayer
  • Growth
  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • Purpose
  • Work
  • Stop complaining
  • Laughter
  • Happy List
  • Helping Others
  • Forgiveness
  • Patience
  • Refreshing Relationships
  • Big Picture
  • Encouragement

 

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

True Positive: Day 16 – Helping Others

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Feeling blue? Consider doing something kind for someone else. It may be volunteering at a hospital or a dog shelter or at a local school. You could write a letter to someone who needs encouragement or cook a meal for someone who could use some help or even bring groceries to someone who can’t get out right now. When we reach out to help others, thinking of their needs, it gets our mind off of our own stuff and actually gives us a feeling of joy. Although our motivation for doing things for others shouldn’t be to please ourselves, it is a natural consequence and an added blessing.

A team of sociologist tracked a group of 2000 people over a 5-year period and discovered that those who described themselves as “very happy” also volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month.  Of course, there could be a number of reasons for this, but researchers believe that showing compassion gives people a neurochemical sense of reward as an emotional boost. For more benefits to helping others click here. Jesus spoke about showing kindness and love even to our enemies. He said, “Give and it will be given back to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be poured into your lap.”

Take one step today to reach out in kindness to another person.

Photo by Madi Robson on Unsplash