My husband is a huge fan of holstee.com, not just for the eternally optimistic editorial but for the new words and soul expanding ideas he finds there.
Last week’s word was “sonder” which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as our own and that all these other lives are co-existing around us without our awareness of their richness, their complexity and their interconnectedness with our own lives.
As I read the definition I was struck by the truth of this! How often we walk past a stranger on the street, sit next to someone on the train or tram or sip a coffee next to someone in a café with no awareness, or even curiosity, about how their lives are unfolding. Or even worse, we sometimes judge them without any knowledge of them personally, or their circumstances. We make assumptions that separate us from them, rather than tuning in to what we all have in common with each other.
We can become so focused on our own lives, our own stories, our own experiences that it’s easy to forget that there are millions of parallel lives unfolding simultaneously.
So why is this relevant to being happy? Well, happy people feel connected to everyone around them, friends and strangers alike. They see themselves as part of the huge flow of the universal life force, the energy that unites everything and everyone, and they consciously connect to this flow. In doing so, they value the lives and perceptions of all people. They celebrate diversity and they hold the vision of a united, peaceful world.
But when we’re feeling miserable, angry or upset, it’s easy to become self-involved and to lose sight of this bigger picture. It’s easy to become insular and judgmental rather than expansive and open-minded which is where we find joy. And it’s far easier said than done to feel connected when every part of us is hurt or lonely, so how do we feel part of the community when we’re feeling low?
Here’s some top tips to connect you with the world around you!
- Spend time with a close friend in whose company we find pleasure and comfort
- Go to a favourite cafe, gym or shop where a familiar face will make small talk until we feel part of the world again.
- Take ourselves off to the library or the movies or the gardens, somewhere we don’t have to talk but don’t have to feel alone either.
- Immerse ourselves in a community based class – drawing, singing, dancing – until we feel more connected and balanced.
The answer will be different for everyone but it’s always worth remembering ‘sonder’ and knowing we’re not alone.
For practical tips on how to connect with ourselves and find real joy, see Read Start Being Happy .