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In this article we will focus on what we can do when ALONE, what good comes from being ALONE – how we think affects our life
We all will come to a point when we find ourselves ALONE. Some of us reading this have experienced life altering changes that end with us being ALONE. Others of us have always been more ALONE than with others. What can we do to understand how being ALONE is not only OK but it’s a good place as we learn about ourselves?
Have you experienced something that changed your life to being more ALONE? There have been several times in my life that I found myself ALONE. When my first marriage ended and I became a single mom, those shared custody weekends when my daughter was with her dad, I was ALONE for the first time. Really ALONE! With the advice of trusted friends and a mentor I took the time to evaluate my life, my motivations and beliefs. This was one of the first times I thought about and learned about myself instead of just cruising on auto-pilot.
Are you able to see some benefits of being ALONE? When I think back to that first time of being ALONE I remember thinking – yahoo, I can eat cereal for supper! I have complete control of the remote, I can go to bed when I desire and I don’t have to change out of my pajamas today if I don’t want to. Simple pleasures. What are some of the benefits you are experiencing or have experienced from being ALONE?
How has being ALONE changed your life? Are you more independent? Do you find yourself being more introspective? Do you have time to be reflective about your life? If not, I highly recommend you find a mentor, counselor, friend or Life Coach to guide you in this introspection journey. This is one of the things I love to do with folks as a Life Coach. You can reach me by simply going to the Speak To Me page
When we find ourselves ALONE we can now – take time for introspection – what is that? Taking time to reflect on our souls, our thoughts, what we value, our beliefs and our influences.
Our society does not put much stock in taking time to really look at ourselves, to reflect on what our beliefs are for ourselves….NOT just agreeing with others or joining “a group” mentality – but really taking ALONE time to search our heart, soul and mind. For those who have a belief in Jesus, we have an added bonus of having the written word of our faith to reflect on, to get to know, to memorize and put in our hearts. This time of being ALONE lets us put things in perspective, aligning our priorities with our beliefs.
Corrie ten Boom, who lived through the atrocities of WW 11 writes, “I remember moments during WW 11 when suddenly there was an immediate threat to our lives during an air raid or in prison. At that moment you saw everything from God’s point of view, and it gave you a totally different perspective, because you touched death and therefore eternity. You saw that small things were small and big things were big. You would see everything in the right proportions.”
How many of us take the time to look at things and put them in the right perspective or realign our priorities/values? When we have ALONE time we are gifted with time to do this.
What are some questions you might ask yourself that would help you decide what your priorities, values, or beliefs are? How about trying a couple of these questions:
What do I believe to be truth?
How does (any of my actions or thoughts) fit into that truth?
What do I feel important things/people/beliefs are?
What do I value? Do I live what I value?
How much energy and focus do I give things that do NOT fit into my values?
How do I filter my thoughts when I am ALONE ? Do I go through memories or events or relationships looking for the positive in those OR do I focus on the negative?
When we are ALONE we can take the proper time to reflect on these thoughts…..run them through the filter of our beliefs. If we are linked in our thoughts to our belief system we have those filters written for us.
As a Christian I have Philippians 4:8 for a filter – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
What is your filter? How do you let thoughts come into your head and make their way to your heart? This is an important step as you evaluate, discover, realize, question, decide what you believe. As a general rule – how we ACT comes directly from how we THINK. When we have the ALONE time to think, question, reflect and prioritize we are able to ACT out of those beliefs.
One of the beautiful thoughts I believe for myself and others – “It’s NOT too late to change”. If after reflecting a little, you don’t like what you are realizing about yourself, how you are living out or NOT living out your priorities, values and more ….maybe that is a reason you are ALONE – change it!! How you might ask? Again, with your mentor, counselor, friend or Life Coach you can see the possibilities and get started on a path of living a more positive, meaningful and productive life. Feel free to reach out at the Speak To Me page.
Research tells us that being a positive, optimistic person can influence areas of our life such as:
Overall health and well-being
Mortality and longevity
Greater achievement and performance
Greater ability to meet goals – and to set goals
Clinical issues like depression and anxiety
Relationship success and satisfaction
Stress and recovery from illness
After you have taken the time to reflect during your ALONE time, do you find yourself on the positive or negative side of things? Do you have HOPE in the future or do you dread the future? Are the people around you more positive or lean towards the negative? How you see things and who you associate with, effects your positive or negative thoughts. I’m not suggesting that positive thinking helps everything become awesome, however, we know again through research that, optimism and positive thinking can change your life.
If you have the choice – do you enjoy spending time with negative thoughts or positive thoughts? Why? Do you think OTHERS want to spend time with negative or positive people?
For a start, look at these tips to become more positive – even an optimist.
- Optimistic thinking is NOT the same as being in denial. Denial says that everything is FINE. We all know, that is far from the case sometimes. Optimism embraces reality and says that although things might be really bad today, they will get better eventually and will work out.
- Optimism and faith are much related. Faith says that although I might not get, or did not get, the outcome that I desire, God is God, He still loves me and whatever He is doing will be for my good.
- When bad things happen check ourselves for our interpretation of the events. Optimists see a bad occurrence or event as not meaning something about THEM ,“I’m a loser.” Instead positive thinkers see it as a bad outcome that is based on factors besides themselves, like timing, random circumstances….etc. – they do not see it as something to be generalized but something specific – “That meeting didn’t turn out” RATHER than – “ALL meetings I go to will never work out”. AND they do not see bad outcomes as something that will be the outcome always.
- Optimism comes from taking little steps and achieving success in small increments….then you believe for the future. Do NOT say – “I’m going to have the biggest garden this summer.” But rather – “I’m going to enjoy the seeds I’m planting in this container this Summer.” When you set realistic goals, you are doing growth, one little step at a time.
- Do not let your past say discouraging things to you. What did you learn and change from that experience. Many people who are very successful had a LOT of failure first. Ask for forgiveness if necessary, change the behavior, learn from it and move on.
- Optimism or Positive thinking can be learned! To change and become positive surround yourself with positive things, books, your bible, people that believe in you. You cannot learn positive thinking from pessimists….they only know negative thoughts. Find people, resources – a place of worship that helps you in your quest to be more positive! If you need help, please contact me by going to the Speak To Me page.
Thanks to Women of Faith for some of the Positive Tips.
Do you think changing is possible? Have you been around people who are positive? How did that make you feel? Did their positivity rub off on you? What did you think about those people when you left the situation?
Have you been around those who have a negative filter for life? How did that make you feel? Did their negativity rub off on your and how you were thinking/acting? What did you think about that experience when you left those folks?
We/you have the opportunity to change from a negative thinking person – if that is how you look at the world, to a positive – more optimistic person. The choice is yours. If you desire a change, or want to discover your values, beliefs and purpose and want help, please contact me by completing the Speak To Me page. I would enjoy working with you. Feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts on this article. We do reserve the right to edit comments before publishing.
Our next article will be discussing ALONE vs LONELY. Until then, have a blessed day and take some time to discover a bit about yourself!
Have you thought about why you feel so much better when you are serving someone else? Have you ever felt the warm “fuzzy’s” after blessing someone with a favor or kind deed? Have you found yourself the recipient of someone else’s gift of serving? What is it that they have? Why do they seem happier and/or healthier? It has been studied and proven that when we are serving others, giving, caring, doing for another…not only is the recipient blessed but we feel better too!
Do you realize it’s not just the way we think that is impacted by serving, it’s physical and emotional too! Several studies have found that not only does serving others cause mood improvements but it has health benefits as well. Giving helps you overcome stress – your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps you buffer stress while increasing social trust and tranquility – the “compassion hormone” as it has been labeled helps limit exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, says Stephanie Brown from Stony Brook University, New York. Stacey Curnow, creator of Midwife for Your Life, says about experiencing a release of oxytocin, “It’s a self-perpetuating cycle! After a positive exchange, more oxytocin is released and we are even more likely to reach out and interact with others in a cooperative and nurturing manner.”
Other studies have found that those who serve live longer. A study by Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD at the University Of Minnesota School Of Social work, showed that seniors who gave 100 hours or more annually lived 22 percent longer than seniors who did not serve others. And one of the beautiful findings is that it’s not just seniors or adults, but young children, even toddlers. A study by Aknin, Hamlin and Dunn: Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, found that given a choice toddlers are happier when they share with others, even if it is at a cost to themselves. WOW!!
Additional health benefits are pain relief, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and discomfort. If you want to manage your pain serve others dealing with the same or similar pain. A study done by Paul Arnstein, PhD, specialist in pain relief at Massachusetts General Hospital found when people suffering with chronic pain helped others with the same ailment, they reported feeling less discomfort themselves and recognized the positive effect they had on others in the same situation. Which then gave them a greater sense of purpose. I know this is true from personal experience in the MS world. A group of 20 and sometimes more of us who battle MS work out together at a gym. We all come with differing levels of physical ability, we raise the level of JOY in the room simply by cheering each other on and/or challenging each other to try new things. It’s amazing and very heartwarming! Each of us are improving our health by increasing our stamina, challenging our bodies to do more AND having fun being supported by each other. We have a group of dedicated volunteers that come weekly to record our progress, encourage and challenge us. Ask any of those volunteers why they serve – you get an answer of how they are inspired and motivated by those they are serving.
Another study in the journal of Psychology and Aging found adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than nonvolunteers to have developed hypertension four years later! Researchers believe that the stress-reducing effects of being both active and altruistic helped the volunteer’s lower blood pressure. And we find from another source that, raising our oxytocin hormone level limits our exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, from Stephanie Brown, PhD Stony Brook University, New York.
What do we do with all of this? How can we impact our health and mood? I firmly believe we look for opportunities to SERVE! To help us remember, give a few more reasons and a couple of simple suggestions, let’s look at serving this way.
S – E – R – V – E
S – Simply Smile at others. Anyone can do it and it’s contagious! Go ahead, give it a try next time you are at the grocery store, in your neighborhood or at church. Simply Smile and see what happens. Serving can be THAT easy!
E – Excite others and invite them to serve with you. If you are getting all the health benefits of lower blood pressure, higher levels of the “compassion hormone” and living longer….invite others to experience the same with you!
R – Renew your HEALTH by serving – Have a chronic issue? Find a group or organization that serves others like you and SERVE them. It could be as easy as a phone call checking in with them, leading a group, doing a visit, running errands….but whatever you do for others, you will be surprised how that makes YOU feel healthier – like mentioned earlier….you can step out of your pain, anxiety or mild depression by serving others living with the same issue.
V – Volunteer – Give of your time, talent or resources and just wait to see the results! If it’s a cause you believe in, you will reap the benefits we’ve listed earlier and others as well! If you don’t believe results from research, then do your own! Take time to find an organization, ask at your church, research on-line or stop by a Community Center and see what they need. Can you fit that need? Give it a little time and if you are volunteering out of caring – NOT obligation – you will reap the health benefits listed and help others!!
E – Even financial contributions make us feel better. Remember after 911, the tsunami in Japan, or any big catastrophe that has a way to contribute financially– even anonymously? People JUMPED at the chance, the mood in the country was of charity. I would bet your oxytocin hormone level would elevate! A study done at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that employees who spent a greater portion of bonuses they had received on others or made charitable donations with it reported greater happiness than those who spent more of the bonus on themselves. Give it a try!
If you are thinking that you would like to find your niche or to discover what it is you are meant to do, I would enjoy working with you! You can simply go to the Speak To Me page and contact me. We can together help you clarify your values, discover your strengths/gifts and guide you on the road to pursuing your purpose!
I would LOVE to hear your serving stories and how it not only benefited those you served, but how your health has improved. Please share your story in the comments section.
Until next time, be blessed and BE a blessing!