A year in review - what is the best gift we can bestow on ourselves
Our personal worlds tend to be insular these days. No wonder so many of us are lonely, in a web of isolation bereft of strong connections. So caught up in the cycle of our day to day lives, busy with the demands of our daily routines and not seeing beyond it to reach out to others. Strange are the times we live in, preferring texting to picking up the phone, chatting online, to face to face meetings. Loneliness has taken on pandemic proportions despite social distractions, filled engagement diaries and a rolodex crammed with friends. How did we get here? The legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and increased social isolation and loneliness. It is not just the elderly who are caught in this web, particularly troubling is the fact that the vulnerable 18 – 24 year old's constitute the loneliest groups. Millennials are vulnerable, both psychologically and physically. In the words of Dr. Vivek Murthy, “Modern progress has brought unprecedented advances that make it easier for us technically to connect, but often these advances create unforeseen challenges that make us feel more alone and disconnected.”
Disconnect from your Devices
Technology is undeniably a fantastic tool but it can be isolating. We need to disconnect from them and reconnect with each other to bridge the chasm. Resisting the urge to check our devices when we are in the company of others. Loneliness is very hard to just shake off, there are no quick fix solutions but many strategies can help. Being cognizant is the first step and seeking out like minded folks will get us closer to our goal of breaking free. Begin by nurturing our existing bonds, however few and fragile they may be. For many the path out of loneliness is to remind themselves their place within the community and how rewarding it would be to to be involved in the community. The ripple effects of charity work is infinite and paying it forward can give us the direction in life that we have been seeking without even knowing it.
To rise above our own circumstances and gaining a fresh perspective can be liberating, while channeling energy in the service of others. Inside of being mired in our own issues, we can gain the ability to address the lives of others, their concerns and their needs. This can be a big leap. A coming of age moment that allows us the ability to reach out to others and not be so caught up in our own world.
Quite simply giving is good for you. Donating to charities or volunteering your time is akin to performing an act of kindness. These acts resonate and reflected physically in our bodies and brains creating a “warm, wonderful, positive feeling”. Acts of charity can be as simple as helping a neighbor, family member or providing emotional support to a friend or a co - worker. These exchanges promote a sense of social connection, closeness and generosity and feeds both ways. Charity can foster a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation that reduces stress.
With the holiday season upon us, as we shop for gifts for our near and dear ones, it is time to pause and think about others less fortunate than ourselves. To spare a thought for their wellbeing. Often we are faced with the tough reality that as much as we think that our lives are demanding and difficult, so many others have it much tougher than us and that is indeed a lesson in humility, giving us a much needed reality check.
Fodder for the Soul
As we jumpstart and create a cascade of generosity, we realize this is integral not only to social bonds but also to physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. Both receiving and giving of a gift can elicit feelings of thankfulness. These are aspirational buys we need to invest in that will vastly strengthen our inner core. Counting our blessings should not be mere lip service, as we commit to cultivating gratitude, giving more to the service of others, taking better care of ourselves as we face 2022 with optimism.
We are stronger together