Have you ever felt lonely? Unfortunately, most people would answer yes. There is a loneliness epidemic going on in the world today and I am on a mission to help fight against it. So is Rite of Passage designer and TEDx speaker, Baya Voce. As I was researching loneliness, I found Baya’s TEDx talk (with over 4 million views) on a simple cure for loneliness. This intrigued me and I knew we had to chat. It just so happened that serendipity wanted us to chat as well. My friend and former More Happy Life podcast guest, Doug Cartwright (see episode 120) happens to be friends with Baya and we got on the phone and made this episode a reality. We talked about some really life-changing principles here:
Micro and Macro Transitions
How to experience Grief and Gratitude simultaneously
Rituals to help with grief and transition
Loneliness and how to deal with it
Connecting with our inner wisdom to find the answers we need
Baya also shares a never-before-published story of how she was able to use ritual to get through a major heart break that began on the TEDx stage. If you are going through something hard right now, you should listen to this episode. If you have ever gone through a major transition, you should listen to this episode.If you have ever felt lonely, you should listen to this episode. Don’t miss this one!
Listen to this episode on your favorite podcast app:
Baya Voce is a Rite of Passage Designer, helping people turn their life transitions into rites of passage through ritual and ceremony.
She’s known for designing and facilitating experiences ranging from two-person rituals and 20-person Jeffersonian-style dinners to 100+ person women’s circles, elaborate 1,000+-person theatrical productions, and conferences at places like Lincoln Center.
Her TEDx talk on loneliness is one of the most-viewed of all time with over 4 million views. Baya has produced experiences in conjunction with brands like Lyft and Google Fiber, and has been featured by ABC, Fox, MTV, and SXSW for her perspective on human connection, given her prior years as a successful matchmaker. You can connect with her online at www.bayavoce.com or on @baya_voce on instagram.
If you feel like you are not enough or that your life needs to change for you to be happier and healthier, Episode 120 is for you. In this episode I interview the founder of The Daily Shifts, Doug Cartwright. The Daily Shifts is an app that encourages you to engage with your mind and body in a way that can turn your day around. In this episode we talk about so many amazing things:
Breathing: Inhale in for 2, Hold for 2, Exhale for 2
The power of Gratitude
The importance of knowing how to manage your energy
“In less than two minutes you can totally change your energy”
The power of transitions to boost or suck our energy
“The number one most important decision I’ve made was I surrendered my life to the universal flow of the planet.”
Surrender to the universe, AND show up everyday the best you can.
A powerful mindset: “Life is happening FOR you and not TO you.”
We get back what we put out into the world
Transformative journalism with Michelle Gielan (25:15)
Unfollow negative news and people who are spreading negativity and replace with positivity
How to vote when you don’t follow the news (ask trusted friends and then use iSideWith.com to save a year of contention and negativity energy suck.
The loneliness epidemic (31:45) is based in the belief of “I’m not enough”
We are here on earth to do two things: Create and Connect
To have a more happy life create a routine ritual to connect with your intuition and higher self (37:25)
Sign up for The Daily Shifts at https://www.thedailyshifts.com/ and if you sign up for premium membership, you’ll also get The Daily Shifts course that is worth $500. This is an amazing deal exclusive to More Happy Life listeners!
More about Doug:
Doug Cartwright is the founder of a new app called The Daily Shifts that helps you to ritualize daily physical and mental shifts to improve your health and happiness. Doug has an amazing story of going from being one of the top sales reps at Vivint, selling over 300 accounts per year having made over a million dollars by the time he was 25. Then he came to a point in his life where he realized he wanted something more than just making more money and buying more things. In today’s episode he shares the transformation of how he found his new purpose in creating daily shifts in his own mind and body through connecting to his intuition.
Do you want to boost your energy without having to pound another RedBull or going for the afternoon cup of Joe? This episode is for you. A lot of people struggle with fatigue, or are just sapped of energy on a regular basis. I believe that increasing energy is one of the most powerful ways to have a more happy life and I want to share things that can help you boost your energy without caffeine.First, a word on caffeine. I don’t have anything against caffeine other than that it was the stimulant that triggered my first panic attack ever. So ever since then, I have chosen not to consume caffeine to boost my energy and I have had to find other ways to keep me awake when I’m having a tired day. The other thing is that caffeine doesn’t actually produce energy in your body. It is a stimulant. It basically tricks your brain into thinking that you have energy, but it doesn’t actually have the building blocks of energy that your body needs.So here are some ways to boost energy without having to rely on that cup of Joe every day.
If your urine is not pale yellow or straw colored, you need more water. Dehydration can suck your energy, make you moody and even cause joint and muscle pain.
2. Move more
Stretching or simple yoga, dance, go for a walk.
3. Eat smaller meals more often
Instead of 3 meals, eat smaller meals more often. This helps keep blood sugar levels steady. Avoid large amounts of sugar and fat (AKA most baked goods).
4. Optimize your Breathing
Increasing oxygen flow to your body is an amazing trick to help you feel energized. Yoga can really make you feel energized at the end, not just because you are stretching and moving, but because you have been focused on breathing the whole time. I recently used a device to measure my breathing while I wasn’t thinking about it and found that my breathing was quite shallow while I work and most of the time. This isn’t always a bad thing – research shows that breathing while you are in an intense focus is more shallow and frequent than when you are sleeping, for instance, but it was very interesting to be given a reminder to breathe deeply when I hadn’t for over an hour.
5. Sleep better
Adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and should never drop below 6 hours consistently. I have been using a sleep tracker that tells me how I’m doing in my sleep habits. Some studies show that you can develop what researchers call sleep debt and sleep credit. If you have been consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep, you might be accumulating sleep debt that can be very bad for energy and for all kinds of things.Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet. If you can’t keep it quiet, try introducing a gentle white noise that can drown out noises that may disrupt sleep cycles.Don’t just set a wake up alarm, set a wind-down alarm or two to help remind you to start winding down for the night.If you need help winding down and sleeping better, check out my evening routine for boosting positive emotion here.
6. EatThings that will boost energy
Raw cacao (I like nibs)
Eat more spinach (or food with B-vitamins). These help you convert nutrients you eat into energy
Any spikes in stress increase cortisol and adrenaline in your blood. This increases your allostatic load, which overtime if you are constantly stressed or anxious, can be exhausting.
What can you let go of today? What can you include that decreases stress? Who can you connect to today?
Mindfulness can decrease your allostatic load. One study showed that LKM for just 10 minutes a day altered the size of the amygdala in the brain (which is primarily responsible for perception of threats and spikes in anxiety).
8. Connect to your Purpose and Values
Stress comes from constantly spending effort on something that you do not value.
Energy comes when you set intention toward something that you deeply value and that you believe is helping you accomplish your purpose in life.
Look at the activities you engage in each day and ask yourself, “how is this connected to what I value most?” Or “is this something that is helping me connect to my purpose in life?”
In her book The Upside of Stress,Kelly McGonigal talks about how we can convert threat-based stress into challenge-based stress by connecting the stressful event to something you deeply value. When stress turns from threat to challenge, instead of being sapped by stress, you are energized by it. This is one of the upsides of stress, according to Dr. McGonigal.
9. Rock out to your favorite tunes
Belting out your favorite song gives you a lift, according to a study in the Journal of Music Therapy. Researchers measured people’s arousal levels after singing along or just listening to one song and found that the subjects felt more energetic after crooning. Hitting those high notes requires some effort, triggering a stress response that gives you a boost, the researchers say. Too shy to sing? Tapping along to a song can have the same effect.
10. Connect to People You Love
There is a story of a man who was doing a service mission in the South Pacific who got caught in a storm while sailing between two islands. His boat capsized. He was thrown into a relentless ocean and the storm wasn’t letting up. His energy was sapped and he started to think that it was over for him. He even began thinking about what people would think when they heard he had died at sea. Then he remembered his girlfriend who had been sending him letters from the United States. He knew her love for him and believed deeply in this connection. As he thought of this love, something inside of him took strength and he was given the energy to keep swimming and save his life.
Who loves you? When was the last time you connected with them? Can you connect with them and reach out to them to boost your energy? You also might help boost their energy too.
11. Look forward
What are you looking forward to?
Having something to look forward to can boost your energy and increase positive anticipation. If you don’t have something already to look forward to, add something to your calendar right now. You deserve it and it will boost your energy.
When I was a kid, I remember I would make friends almost every day on the street. It was probably because I was really good at popping a wheelie on my bike. 😉 I just turned 35 and though I feel super healthy, have a steady job and have enough savings to buy my first home, it has been hard to make new friends in my 30s. It’s not as easy as just popping wheelies in the street, but it is very important to keep making friends, especially as an adult.
The Cost of Loneliness
Loneliness costs a lot. In fact it costs almost $7 Billion per year just in the US (1). A non-profit in the UK called The Silver Lining has taken the initiative to decrease loneliness with a 24 hour call center for people who have no one to call (2). They claim to take 10,500 calls per week with over 50% of the calls saying that they would literally have no one else to talk to. How many people would you feel comfortable discussing an important personal issue with? In 1985 the average response to that question was 3 and in 2004 that dropped to 2. In that same study 25 percent of the respondents said they had zero people to talk to! (3) That was in 2004 before social media became much more mainstream. With instagram and facebook having over a billion users each, we are more digitally connected, but less tangibly connected than ever.
Why does this matter? Well, loneliness doesn’t just make you feel like an L7 loser, it’s also really bad for your health. One study showed that social isolation and a lack of connection is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes per day (4). And, on the other side of the coin, the healthiest and happiest people on earth spend an average of six hours socializing per day! (5) Seriously?!
Okay so we get it, we need more connection than our phones and our trusty volleyball named Wilson. But how do you make friends as an adult? Well, how did you do it as a kid? Maybe you can reach back into your 7-year-old self and make friends again. Kids basically do a lot of the following tips I suggest below.
Here are six trusty ways to make new friends as an adult.
1. Put Your Phone Down and Talk to People
Okay I’m guilty. I use my phone way too much. I’m kind of embarrassed to show my screen time stats from last week, but here we go.
This was obviously a high usage week being 20% up from the week before. Also, I use my phone for my day job engaging and creating on social media, but no excuses. I was on my phone a lot!
While I spend almost five hours on my phone, research shows that the happiest healthiest people on earth spend six hours a day socializing. I am happy to say that the day with the lowest usage was when I was spending time, in person, with a dear friend. We sat and talked for almost four hours! It was great!
Other than for taking a quick selfie with our pineapple and newly adopted stuffed elephant (see below), no phones were touched or picked up the whole time we were together! It was amazing.
So even if your reality is a bit like mine and your phone is used a ton, take a least one day a week to put your phone down and connect with someone.
I think I often get nervous to talk to random people in the elevator or on the street and instead of engaging with them or smiling at them, I just pick up my phone as if email or some random text message is more important. Sometimes I do get a really important call or text, but if you’re trying to make new friends, maybe try something new.
Have you ever tried a day without a phone? Like the old school when they were only connected to the wall? I did it for a week once (see episode 73) and it was amazing what I learned about myself and how much I was able to connect with people.
Try it. Or maybe try the light phone and see how it impacts how much you connect with people.
2. Be More Intimate More Often
I’m not talking about sexual intimacy. The great myth is that sex is the only form of intimacy. Human beings desire intimacy above everything else. To be truly known by someone and still loved. Matthew Kelly says this well:
“Our desire for happiness is ultimately a desire for intimacy. If we have intimacy we can go without an awful lot and still be happy. Without intimacy, all the riches of the world cannot satisfy our hungry hearts. Until we experience intimacy, our hearts remain restless, irritable, and discontented.” (6)
It takes courage to make a new friend as an adult because to be intimate, you have to reveal yourself to someone in ways that are very vulnerable. There is a certain amount of risk associated, but if you never risk being known, you’ll never truly feel loved for who you are.
3. Create a Commitment Ritual
Once you have met someone and been a little vulnerable with them, why not take it a little bit further with a commitment ritual?
You have seen in movies where mere friends become blood brothers or when people spit in their hands and shake on it. I’m not saying you should blend your spit with one of your friends like you did as a kid, but why not have a secret handshake? Or share a password that only you know. Exchange a handwritten note to commence your friendship or even create an “established” certificate that says the date and time you became friends and hang it on your wall. I personally have a friendship wall where I hang pictures of me with friends so that I can get them off my phone and somewhere I can see them every day and remember to reach out to them. After you establish a date of your friendship, celebrate your friendiversary by doing something special or going back to where you first met and savoring the bond between you. This is crazy vulnerable for some people (especially a lot of men), but tell me if you don’t feel more connected to this friend after you do this.
In Okinawa Japan, from a very young age, the people are placed into what are called Moai, or committed friendship groups, for life. They help each other and are committed to each others’ happiness and wellbeing no matter what happens. We could all learn from this ritual and practice.
Let me know what ritual you come up with to commit to your new friend.
4. Move Geographically Closer to a Friend
This may seem like a drastic option, but in a longitudinal study that followed best friends over 19 years, researchers found that participants had moved an average of 5.8 times during that period (7). Have you had a best friend who moved away and then faded into a memory? It’s sad, but it happens often. It doesn’t take long for a best friend to fade from BFF status to “somebody that I used to know.” If you are super BFFs, get vulnerable and tell them that you are thinking seriously about moving closer to them and see how this impacts your friendship.
One of my friends and I used to have a running agreement to visit each other every 6 months. Though we lived hundreds of miles from each other, it kept our friendship from fading into memory-only status.
Just remember that the healthiest and happiest people on earth are the ones who are in close contact with the people they love. Not just family, but friends too. And our close relationships are the number one predictor of our health and life satisfaction (8).
5. Reach Across Stages
Me and my retired friend Clint
Too many middle-aged adults find that they could probably still name a lot of people that they are close to, but who recently entered into a new stage of life. You are single, you have a best friend who is everything to you. You hang out often. You even double date together. Then one of those double dates turns into a fiance of your best friend. You are ecstatic for them and are even their bridesmaid or best man. But then the honeymoon comes and they come back and they are now married and you are now single. You are still close, but now are in a different stage of life. Because of social norms, it feels less comfortable to just swing by and hang out because, well, because they are married now. You may not relate as much on everything within your stage. And if you are the married one, it can be just as difficult. Sure, you have your married your true love and hopefully best friend, but what about all your other friends? Especially when you start to face the responsibility that comes with your marriage. It’s not too different than running a business with a partner. And then when you start having kids and your friend is still in single land, you enter a totally different stage. With each new child comes a different stage. It can get really easy to just say in your head: “We just grew apart”. Did you?
It will likely take courage to reach across stages and express interest in your friendship regardless of helping them change diapers or finding time outside of their married life. But why do you have to end a beautiful friendship because they have babies and a spouse and you don’t? It doesn’t have to end but it does take vulnerability and perhaps more effort to keep the friendship alive.
6. Make an Old Friend a New Friend
How many friends can you think about right now that you have made over the years? How many of them are more like memories than close friends? It may be sad to think that a best friend has become a memory to you, but the truth is, at one point in your life, you didn’t know these people and you had to engage in activities that helped you become friends. You had to invest time and energy into making that friendship. You probably experienced some sort of harmony between you. Why not recreate that formula? And then you aren’t just starting from scratch with a new person, but you have even more relationship capital to build on with them.
Just remember one thing: LET THEM BE NEW.
Even though you have a pretty solid idea about what you think about them and what kind of person they are, let them be new.
“Too often we make the monumental mistake of thinking we know a person. This assumption can stop a relationship from growing and can smother the growth of a person. It is impossible to know a person completely. And because we are constantly changing as individuals, there are constantly new facets of our personalities for those who love us to discover. The real tragedy is that once we fool ourselves into believing we know a person, we stop discovering that person. The process of discovering another person in a relationship is endless. You may think you know just about everything there is to know about your (friend), but you will be amazed at what you are missing out on if you open yourself up to taking another look.” (9)
You may think you know everything about your old friend and they may think they know everything about you. The truth is that you are constantly changing and evolving and if you open up, you’ll discover this friend. An old friend can become a new friend because the reality is, they are a new person and so are you.
Add more life to your days and more days to your life by applying science-backed inspiration and research from Andy Proctor, a well-being expert and PhD candidate studying the science of human connection.