A Dog Without An Owner

May 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I am in Brazil visiting my family and have just got off the phone with a childhood friend.  The call was mostly about making plans for tomorrow but before we hung up she said: Debinha (that’s how my friends in Brazil call me) please say something.  I said “what do you mean?” and she responded “I’m feeling like a dog without an owner.”

What she meant was she didn’t feel like she belonged anywhere.  She’s a woman in her forties, who’s not in a relationship, and who lives alone.  I told her we are all dogs without owners.  What I meant to say was feeling lonely came from within not from being or not in a relationship.

When we are feeling well, we entertain and keep ourselves company.  We listen to what we want to do and we follow up on our desires the best way we can.  We feel whole and because we are okay with our own selves, we are also okay with others and the world. Being with others is in addition to the way we are already feeling.

When we are not well, we feel lonely and abandoned.  So feeling like a dog without an owner in reality has little to do with being with others or not.  It really is about ourselves.  Just ask how many times have you felt alone in the middle of a large group of people?

I told my childhood friend to stop thinking and get out of the house.  “Keep yourself in motion.  The more you think how things are not the way you want them to be, the more pity sets in” I said.  I know from experience this type of thinking is unhealthy.  It is the type where we are the masters of the universe and everything that we consider to be wrong is our fault.  It is the thinking that points to our incapacity to find happiness simply because we are no good.

Each one of us has specific reasons why we feel lonely or why we beat ourselves over the head when we are already down on the ground.  But one universal solution to this phenomenon is to not indulge in it.  “Distract yourself when you start thinking about all the wrong things in your life.  Watch TV, go for a walk, call a friend to talk about the funnies but don’t indulge in your pity for yourself” were my parting words to my childhood friend.

Being our own best friend requires a willingness to peel the layers of the onion and look within.  It takes a willingness to give ourselves a hand when we need it instead of running out and looking for someone else to do so.  It takes realizing only ourselves are a constant companion in our lives.  But if we can do that we’ll never feel like a dog without an owner as we are both the dog and the owner.

Share

The Truth About Happiness

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

The feeling of being happy is the ultimate human quest but what does it really mean to be happy?

According to Michael J. Fox,“Your happiness grows in direct proportion to your acceptance, and in inverse proportion to your expectations.”  Now according to Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, “the source of our unhappiness is expectations. Greed fulfilled makes us ‘happy’ for awhile, but when our expectations are no longer met, we’re miserable.”  And finally the Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.

When I’m feeling blue I ask myself “if this or that happened would I feel happy?”  When I think about the answer and imagine my life with this or that happening, the answer is almost always “no”.  The knot is coming from some place else and it is then I realize happiness is independent of this and that.  Happiness is how we feel inside our minds and hearts.  So the good news is that while this can be complicated, because it does not have a quick fix, it is 100% dependent on us.  We have within us everything we need to reach a more fulfilling life or as the dictionary says; a state of well-being.

If you don’t believe what I’m saying ask yourself if by meeting he or she the loneliness and depression you sometimes feel would go away completely.  Close your eyes and really give yourself a few minutes to day dream.  I know my answer is: meeting him (in my case) would be lovely but that which sometimes grabs my insides would still be there.

What about earning lots of money? Would that make us happy? Yes and no.  Money can make things easier and more exciting but the knot would still remain once the novelty subsided.

I am not advocating for celibacy and poverty but I’m suggesting we should also peel the layers of the onion. Learning about ourselves and becoming our own best friends help us understand why the knots are there. And once we know, when he or she arrives, or the job, or the money, we can embrace these gifts with delirious gusto.

Share

The Impact Of Loneliness

March 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

March 30, 2010 in raw foods by Srinivasan Pillay – www.radishgreens.com

A recent study of 50-68 year old men and women in Chicago, found that being lonely at the beginning of the study correlated with increases in blood pressure two, three and four years later. People with higher levels at the onset of the study had greater increases in systolic blood pressure. This effect was not accounted for by age, gender, race or ethnicity, cardiovascular risk factors, medications, health conditions, and the effects of depressive symptoms, social support, perceived stress, and hostility (Hawkley, Thisted et al.). This study was remarkable because it was not a cross sectional study but instead, people were followed over time. In an earlier study of people examined all at one time, this association was also seen. Why would loneliness lead to your blood vessels being more resistant to blood flow, or your heart straining more to pump out blood?

While the answer to this is not known, a few things about lonely people are worth noting. Did you know that lonely people are rewarded more by things than by the faces of pleasant people? (Cacioppo, Norris et al. 2009) That means that when lonely people see happy people, their brains do not respond with relief. Instead, they turn off. Things, which are probably less threatening, are more rewarding. Furthermore, the brains of lonely people are also more sensitive to unpleasant people. If this is the case, it is conceivable that they suffer at both ends-the heart and the brain. The brain, being less responsive to pleasant things, does not spend much time quieting down the heart or relieving it. And the heart, needing more effort to pump blood to the brain, actually deprives the brain of the blood it needs to relieve itself with pleasant things. What a vicious cycle!

It is no wonder then, that we become nervous when we are lonely, for our bodies are telling us that something is going wrong. We may rationalize all we want about being self-sufficient or about being able to take care of ourselves, and that is true but it seems that denial of loneliness is not really helpful. Your brain and heart know anyway.

In this era of self-sufficiency, single parents, one driver cars and an increasing reliance on superficial modes of connecting, we are jeopardizing our hearts and brains without knowing this. The tendency to act as though nothing is happening does not do much either.

So what should one do about loneliness?
Firstly, if you are lonely, instead of being ashamed, know and understand this deeply. Know too, that filling your life with events and people does not remove loneliness. One of the biggest causes of loneliness is not expressing yourself as fully as you can; not being the complete success that you can be. When people are in the zone, they are usually not lonely.

This is in part because being “in the zone” removes the observing self. Paradoxically, we are most alone when we are split into an observing and experiencing self — when a part of us provides a narrative about life. We are least lonely when the observing and experiencing self are one. This oneness is where we need to be operating from and this oneness is the place where loneliness cannot exist.

Whenever you find yourself having an internal observing narrative: “I am so stressed”, “I feel anxious”, “I can’t believe I did that” — recognize that this is the way of loneliness. The only way we can get our observing voices to stop talking, is to give our all to every moment in our lives; as challenging as that is, it is critical to removing loneliness.

My main message here: removing the observing voice from your head will make you feel much less lonely than having a hundred people in your life. Do this as a favor to your heart. Your brain will thank you.

References
Cacioppo, J. T., C. J. Norris, et al. (2009). “In the eye of the beholder: individual differences in perceived social isolation predict regional brain activation to social stimuli.” J Cogn Neurosci 21(1): 83-92.
Hawkley, L. C., R. A. Thisted, et al. “Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults.” Psychol Aging 25(1): 132-41.

Share

Finding Love After Loss

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

My husband died on August 15th 2008 at 2am.

We met 5 years ago and had the most incredible life together.  After kissing many frogs and frogets, Chris and I were kissing each other and marveling at our luck at having finally found one another.  We were full of hope for a life together. And full of love.

But then two years later that annoying saying “all good things come to an end” happened.  Chris was diagnosed with a very rare cancer and needed a liver transplant a.s.a.p or he wouldn’t make it.

From Los Angeles we flew in an air ambulance to Jacksonville, Florida where he would have a better chance for a transplant.  After many visits to the ER, and with only hours to spare, Chris received a new liver.

Read more

Share

« Previous Page