Are you lonely? Do you often feel sad, disconnected and that no one cares?
We all go through periods of loneliness. Even “successful,” “popular” and “active” people have bouts of loneliness. Why? Existential loneliness is part of being human. It is the general sense of feeling isolated and disconnected in a large universe. Even the most extroverted among us go home alone at the end of the day. And just because loneliness is a universal experience doesn’t make it any less daunting. Feeling all alone is one of the most difficult experiences a person can have.
No matter how much you feel for another person, there’s still a boundary: I’m me and you’re you. And that has a certain element of pain because it’s something that you can’t get around.
Loneliness can also be between you and yourself. You can feel very happy being with others and still feel lonely because you’re disconnected from yourself.
For example, you’re hard at work and successful. You make a good salary, people admire your work, and you feel you’re contributing something. You come home and your soul craves for something more. Success is just not enough. You may need a companion. You may need some spiritual inspiration. You may need something transcendental. As long as you don’t have it, all that success feeds one part of you but another part of you remains hungry. And that means you’re alone with yourself. You are inherently lonely because your own being feels lonely. One part is lonely and does not feel connected to another part.
You can feel at peace with yourself when all parts of you are being fed; when not only your material side, your success is being nurtured, but it is also taking place on a personal level, in your personal life, your psychological life, or in your spiritual life. That’s when the loneliness turns into a union, where you have different voices inside of you that all reconnect with each other.
Simon Jacobson, in his book Toward a Meaningful Life leads you to heal loneliness at its root, by way of recognizing your true inherent significance. Connect the fragmented pieces in your life into a harmonious whole by acknowledging your absolute uniqueness and unconditional value. Without the feeling that you matter and that you’re significant, all your daily activities cannot supply you with feeling a part of a bigger picture, part of contributing something that no one else can do except you. This sense of significance is the single greatest force that battles true, existential loneliness.
After many hours of looking for food, a bird returns to its nest, taking supreme comfort in a place that is warm and safe, far removed from the dangers and distractions of the world outside.
A human being should feel the same sense of warmth and security when he or she comes home each night. Your home and family are your nest, the center of your life, the hub from which all your daily experiences extend. Both as children and adults, our home and family are where we should feel most comfortable in the world. They determine how you make your life decisions; they shape your attitudes, your awareness, your self-esteem. A healthy home life is obviously a vital ingredient in the pursuit of a meaningful life.
Home is where we learn to cope and to be productive, to work and play, to be comfortable with ourselves and with others. Most important, home is where we learn about happiness and wholesomeness. Think about the warmth you feel when you come home after being away for a few months or even a few days. How different that warmth is from what we experience in the world outside! Our home is a secure base that gives us the confidence to explore the terrain of an unpredictable and often dangerous world.
Just as a healthy person may take his health for granted, many of us fail to appreciate the beauty of a nurturing home. Our parents’ attitudes and love provide us with a foundation from which we build our own lives. And like a foundation, it is invisible; it holds us up even though we never see it. To appreciate the strength of a truly loving home, we only need to see a situation where a home did not serve its function. Unfortunately, we don’t need to look very far. Millions of people today never had a true home, a comfortable environment where they knew they were wanted, needed, and loved; where there was nothing to fear and where problems were dealt with head-on rather than ignored or denied; where they could learn to love and be loved.
It is the parents’ responsibility to build a happy and healthy home — not only for the sake of their children, but for themselves and for the guests who will enter their home. Especially in these troubled times, when so many people do not have healthy homes of their own, it is your duty to set an example.
Having a healthy home depends largely on your attitude toward it. Do you feel that your home is your true home, the most peaceful place in the world, or just another station along the way, where you do a few things before moving on? A true home must be the center of your life or it will inevitably become a liability and a burden. You must learn to respect your home, to see it as your partner. Part of respecting the home is respecting the commitment to build a family — the blessing that G-d has given to have children, to fill the home with love and warmth.
It is important to remember: Your work may be important and necessary for survival, but the workplace is not your home. Neither is the restaurant where you eat, the museum you visit, or the foreign city you travel to. Many people today have replaced their homes with their careers or hobbies — perhaps because they, as children, never had comfortable homes, or because their parents put their careers and personal interests before home and family.
But why should your home be the center of your life when there are so many exciting things to do and learn? Because, in order to fully enjoy anything in life, you must feel entirely comfortable with yourself, and you learn to be this way at home, free from the distractions and struggles of the outside world.
What does it mean to be comfortable with yourself? It means being comfortable with your soul, the G-dliness within you. It means that your outer you, the part that deals with the material world, is at peace with the inner you, the real you. And that makes you a comfortable place for G-d to dwell in. When you radiate from within, you warm your entire home, filling it with a peace and gentleness that will be felt by all those who enter.
In the book Toward a Meaningful Life you will discover a universal blueprint for living a mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy and vibrant life. You already have everything you need to live a life where you feel you are enough and you have enough. Toward a Meaningful Life is a book with a holistic perspective on all areas of life and will give you the gift of insight into your biggest life challenges. More than anything, it will propel you forward on a journey towards your true self, towards a life that’s truly meaningful.
THE WISDOM OF THE REBBE
Epilogue: The Rebbe as The Messiah?
References and Notes