“A life without a lonely place, that is, without a quiet center, becomes destructive.”
Good morning, friends, or afternoon, if that’s when this note hits you. I hope you had a great weekend. Perhaps you got energized by Olympic curling. It’s wild, isn’t it? Let’s calm down and get to it.
In my line of work I have a constant opponent: loneliness. Senior adults, particularly single senior adults, battle loneliness most minutes of every day. A recent wildly popular article in the Boston Globe magazine was titled, “The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.” Loneliness is a real problem, devastatingly so, and I would not suggest otherwise. But I do think it’s a problem with a bit of misunderstanding. We all need a little loneliness on a regular basis.
Stephen Covey touched a real nerve in the country with his 1989 book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” People clamored to understand and apply his teachings to chase effectiveness in their lives. All the lessons are simple (not simplistic, though). The final capstone lesson is “Sharpen the Saw”. To be effective one must take care of oneself. If one runs headlong with the first six lessons, chasing success with every ounce of energy, eventually the well runs dry. You cannot burn a candle at both ends and expect it to last long. Yet how many times do we attempt that very thing in our actions, choices and lives?
Loneliness isn’t the problem; extended and/or uncontrolled loneliness is. In my own life I call it “down time”. I tend to run at full speed as long as I can and then my body or mind tells me, “No more.” I need a break: no work, no chores, no expectations, no responsibilities, no nothing. Perhaps just a day. Sometimes my family has to pick up the slack; often when they need a break I do the same for them. If our lives are active we need a bit of loneliness once in a while just for energy’s sake.
· When your energy is waning do you seek a bit of loneliness?
· What is a new way you could risk loneliness for a while to re-energize?
· How could you spend “alone time” to make it restfully effective?
We are advised to rotate our mattresses to keep them “fresh”. We are advised to change the oil in our cars every 5K miles to keep the care running smooth. We are advised have a yearly check up with our doctor to maintain optimal health. I advise you to be occasionally lonely to maintain your energy and sanity. If it gets momentum and carries on then call me. I’ll break the cycle for you! Give it a try, and have a wonderful week.