So it’s Sunday night. Spencer has made zero attempt to contact me in nearly a week. I went on Facebook and saw pictures of friends with their significant others–boyfriends, fiances, and husbands. I started to feel incredibly lonely and began to go down the road of questioning why I’m still single. Am I not kind enough? Am I abrasive? Am I weird? What’s wrong with me…am I going to be single forever? Will I ever get married and have children? What will I do with my life if I never meet anyone?
And then I remembered reading a book called “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama. Twice in my life I’ve actually seen the Dalai Lama while traveling (once in London, the other time in San Francisco) just by sheer luck, which has always left me feeling incredibly special. I feel a certain closeness to his words, and also to him partially based on these chance encounters. In a part of this book, he is being interviewed by someone and is asked if he ever feels lonely. I’m going to type out the section of this book, because it’s incredibly inspirational to me, and something that I need to refer back to whenever I am feeling lonely.
Interviewer: “Do you ever get lonely?”
Dalai Lama: “No.”
Interviewer: “What do you attribute that to?”
Dalai Lama: “I think one factor is that I look at any human being from a more positive angle; I try to look for their positive aspects. This attitude immediately creates a feeling of affinity, a kind of connectedness. And it may partly be because on my part, there is less apprehension, less fear, that if I act in a certain way, maybe the person will lose respect or think that I am strange. So because that kind of fear and apprehension is normally absent, there is a kind of openness. I think it’s the main factor.”
Interviewer: “But how would you suggest that a person achieve that ability to feel that comfortable with people, not have that fear of apprehension of being disliked or judged by other people? Are there specific methods that an average person could use to develop this attitude?”
Dalai Lama: “My basic belief is that you first need to realize the usefulness of compassion. That’s the key factor. Once you accept the fact that compassion is not something childish or sentimental, once you realize that compassion is something really worthwhile, realize it’s deeper value, then you immediately develop an attraction towards it, a willingness to cultivate it. And once you encourage the thought of compassion in your mind, once that thought becomes active, then your attitude towards others changes automatically. If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, you can approach a relationship in which you, yourself, initially create the possibility of receiving affection or a positive response from the other person….So if you wish to overcome that feeling of isolation and loneliness, I think that your underlying attitude makes a tremendous difference. And approaching others with the thought of compassion in your mind is the best way to do this.”
Reading this somehow makes me feel somewhat better. I’m not 100% sure how to cultivate compassion, but in my mind it’s definitely something I could work on. Always trying to see the good in people, seeing someone for their similarities instead of differences, and trying to be kind to people. Overcoming loneliness is a constant struggle for me, but dealing with it will require baby steps. Trying to remain positive about my life is one of those steps.