Tag Archives: belonging

Alone Time

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How did you spend your time yesterday? What’s on your “to do” list for today? Do you consider yourself to be a busy, hurried and harried person or is relaxed, slow and steady a more apt description?

Nether of the above approaches to your days and life is better than the other. In fact, if you are a high energy hare-type person attempting to handle life as a tortoise you may increase your level of stress.

But with either of these life styles the chances are that your life is very full. Your obligations include work, your many relationships, time and energy spent on maintaining your physical and mental health, and hopefully hobbies and other entertaining activities. In the midst of all of this, how much time do you spend alone?


Let’s clarify that question. How much time do you spend alone without looking at or interacting with a screen? Do you spend any time during your day alone, without looking at your phone, electronic pad, television, or computer screen? Do you ever sit on a park bench simply watching what there is to see? The activities could include other park visitors, children playing, squirrels scampering, birds flying or ducks and pigeons foraging. And if not the park, you could sit at the mall, the lake or beach, community garden, or even your own porch, back yard, or living room.

You don’t need to meditate to gain the benefits of spending time in solitude every day. At first it may feel strange and uncomfortable. But the more you practice quiet reverie the more you may begin a journey into unknown parts of yourself. Nothing profound needs to happen, and yet it might. At the very least taking this time away, time alone for solitary time out may very well  rejuvenate, revitalize and replenish your personal imaginings and even your soul cravings.

The surest way to hear the soft strains of harmony is in the Silence.                                                                                          —      Sarah Ban Breathnach

Try seeking the love, belonging, and connections you desire by spending time every day alone, in solitude. Incorporating this simple yet challenging practice into your life may very well improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again

Dr. Ken Larsen

Peter, Paul and Mary did the “Wedding Song” back in the 1970s.  It nearly became a wedding cliché in many of the weddings I attended.  The one phrase stuck out for me in a powerful and wonderful way.  “Woman takes her life from man and gives it back again.”  This had a deeply mystical meaning for me that speaks to the flow of life and love among us.  I believe that the phrase need not be gender specific.  We all have the opportunity and the joy of giving life to one another, and receiving life in return.

Our mental health and happiness depend on our need for love and belonging.  When we talk about “love” in this way, I believe we are talking about our connections with one another that allow for the flow of that life giving energy we call “love” to flow freely among us.  We know what this feels like when it is working.  From the near ecstasy of the first blush of young love to the comfortable connections we enjoy with those close to us through the years.  This state of being connected in life giving ways is the cornerstone of mental health and happiness.  Sometimes we don’t know just how much these connections mean to us until they are lost.


What would happen if each of us would recognize that we have the gift of life to give to others?  A cheery smile to a stranger, a word of appreciation to someone who serves us in a restaurant or drug store, these are ways to give life to others.  Flowers, a lingering hug, tender touches are ways that we give and receive life and love from those in the intimate circles of our life.

We’ve heard for millennia that we ought to love one another, but putting this into practice seems to be elusive.  We are faced with the many ways that we are separate and different from one another.  This sense of separation makes it easier to remain distant and disconnected.  Carried further, our history shows that when we focus on our separation and differences, we can blame “them” for our problems.  This leads to enmity, hatred, and sadly, to violence and warfare.

What if we were to begin to look at our connections?  What if we were to make an effort to recognize one another as persons in the greater whole of humanity?  What if we worked consciously to find ways to share life and leave behind our long history of separation, hatred and death?  What if we recognized the truth in John Donne’s oft quoted words:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne  1572-1617.

What if each of us in some small way started to live our lives as though we believed in our connections as human beings? What if each of us would make a choice to give life in some small way each day to those we meet?  I believe that the impact on our world would be more than some small thing.  It could mean a step in progress toward a whole new and  better world.

Try it, you may like it.


Use it or lose it!

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN                                                          

Are you interested in keeping your mind and thinking sharp? Then use it. Recent research tells us that frequent participation in problem solving and thinking games and activities will help us ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want to maintain your physical strength and abilities? Then start exercising and keep at it. Amazingly our muscles will grow stronger as long as we are using them. Using them can include strength building exercises, playing sports, or completing activities of daily living.


Do you want to remain a sexual person? This same principle applies. Use it or lose it. Engaging in sexual activities keeps your sexual desire alive. And when the desire and urge are present chances are that acts of romance will follow.

Now lets consider your happiness muscles. Are you using them frequently and regularly? If not you are bound to slowly lose them. Use it or lose it applies to your Mental Health & Happiness too.

Do you know any grumpy people? Sadly there are more peevish older people than those of other ages. But being irritable and crotchety is not reserved exclusively for the elderly. Anyone who is not exercising, using and working out their happiness muscles is in great peril of becoming ill-tempered and churlish.

Rather than waiting for the research to confirm this idea, understand NOW that if you don’t practice strengthening, endurance and flexibility in developing your happiness muscles you will lose them.

Choose to meet your needs for safety, fun, love & belonging, power and freedom every day in responsible and respectful ways. Exercise your happiness muscles in the following ways:

smiling    producing    giving thanks   journaling   relaxing being mindful   creating       being in sunshine   exercising  physically   sleeping     healthy eating     socializing     volunteering   meditating                                                          

What do you do everyday to improve your personal well-being?

Remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!