Happy Independence Day, everyone in the States! This is my second 4th of July in New Zealand, and there are no fireworks… or American flags. But I’m looking forward to the 5th of November – when Kiwis set off fireworks all across Auckland on Guy Fawkes Day. None of them know why (none that I have found). They say it’s just fun. I feel like Kiwis will do anything for fun’s sake. They don’t really need a reason.
It’s good to do fun things for fun’s sake; it’s a part of being happy and boosting serotonin. But, I really think that sometimes in life, it’s useful to have a reason for doing things. Americans celebrate their independence as a reminder of the freedom gained from an oppressive nation. In New Zealand, they celebrate Waitangi Day to remember the unity and promises made between the colonists and the Maori people. We need to find meaning in the fun.
And we need to find meaning in the not-fun. In the horrible. In loneliness.
This blog was a project that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but it was when I needed it that I finally cracked down and made it a reality. I felt, sometimes, like life had no meaning.
In your loneliness, do you sometimes feel like there is no meaning or purpose to your life?
I think it’s hard to talk about, and honestly, I try and forget that I ever think those horrible thoughts. And I usually do well until the next time I experience extreme loneliness or even depression.
And so, I found myself in a new country with a bunch of strangers – in a new suburb, just married, with a husband in his last and most difficult semester of nursing school. And I yearned for purpose. I cried a lot. With almost every other adventure in my life, God had told me to go or do, and it often happened pretty much last minute. I chose New Zealand because, I believe, God has plans for Mark and I as a couple, but I never thought about what I might do in the in-between – on my transition.
And so I say to you: Sometimes in life, you have to create purpose.
How? By taking what you have and applying meaning to it.
Cacioppo says that “loneliness may damage the cardiovascular system not just by inflicting stress, but also by promoting passive coping in the face of stress” (Cacioppo 106). He says that, often, lonely people will act “with pessimism and avoidance” (103). This means that us lonelies are more likely to just let whatever situation we are in keep us from doing positive things. But, I think, we can create positive things.
One day when I needed to get my mind out of my negative-lonely-world, I just coloured in one of those adult colouring books that are pretty popular right now. I chose one that had words that would encourage me – with some of my favourite animals on it or something. It was an easy way to think of something else, but still get my happy hormones up.
I had a colouring book. I applied meaning to it. I used it to re-focus my mind on the positives.
In this book called Wired to Create by Kaufman and Gregoire, they talk about how we are naturally creative beings. Children left to their own devices will play and imagine and make up stories. Adults will do this, too, and the adults that have continued to “play” do well. Their idea is that we should “play with what you do”- integrate the idea of enjoyment and fun, in effect, with seriousness. This increases endorphins, making you feel good, while doing what you have to do.
You have to work. Apply meaning to it. Find fun in it. Enjoy what you can, because sometimes the stress of work can overwhelm.
You go to school. Apply meaning to it. It is making you a better human being, preparing you for who you are meant to be.
I live in New Zealand and I have no job. I need meaning, so I take what I have – a laptop, a library, a love for writing. And I create a blog with the help and support of a few people. This gives me something that I can see as being important, gives me meaning in how I spend my time. I feel better, and I even feel like I look better. I’m out of bed more, and able to do more.
How can you apply this idea? It can be as simple as drawing or colouring, or as dramatic as a job change. I’d love to hear!
Missed something? We don’t want you to feel left out. 🙂
Check out the rest of the “Loneliness Series”:
1. Loneliness: It’s All of Us
2. Loneliness: The Problem, the Paradoxical Virus, and a Cure
3. Loneliness: Finding the “Inner” Person
4. Loneliness: Finding the “Other” Person
5. Loneliness: Finding Meaning in What you Do
6. Loneliness: For the In-Between
7. Loneliness: Understanding Loneliness in All People
8. Loneliness: Helping Others, Helping Yourself
9. Loneliness: Finding the “Upper” Person
10. Loneliness: Final Thoughts on an Un-Final Topic