UPDATE – The winners for this giveaway are:
- Melissa Ballinger Dees
- Julie C. Perry
- Bobby Irion
- Michael Jon Piper
Sometimes the world can feel like a lonely place. There are billions of people on the planet, and many of us encounter hundreds in the course of our daily lives. Yet it’s easy to feel disconnected from most, if not all of them.
The many strangers we pass on a given day, who may avert their eyes to avoid awkwardness, can start to feel like part of the scenery—like cars parked in a lot or leaves floating in the wind.
And, of course, we may feel the same to them, when we attempt to busy ourselves right when we cross paths—anything to avoid an intimate moment of locking eyes with someone we don’t know.
We look at our feet, or our phones, or our friends. We shut down, cave in, tune them out. In that moment, they’re not people, with stories and feelings just like us. They’re strangers. Unknown. And perhaps a little scary.
The luckiest of us have deep connections with people we do know. But even those relationships can feel distant at times, and maybe more often than not.
We may feel judged, or misunderstood, or ignored. We may worry about what those people think of us, or wonder if they’ll be there when we need them.
And worst of all, we may question if they’d still be there if they really knew us, deepest secrets and all. Proximity doesn’t always equal closeness, and closeness doesn’t guarantee trust.
If it sounds like I am speaking from experience, that’s because I am. I have felt lonely, and insecure, and suspicious. I’ve feared letting my guard down, letting my feelings out, and letting people in.
As a result, I spent years living on an island in my head, maintaining a physical presence in the world but remaining as much emotional distance as possible.
The irony is that I thought I was keeping myself safe from pain, when really I was causing it.
It hurts to feel separate. We are wired to seek connection and belonging—to feel like we are part of something larger than ourselves.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it also takes one to sustain an adult. We were not built to live in isolation, hidden behind apartment doors, phone screens, and dead eyes.
We thrive when we feel like part of a tribe, when the people we share space with become part of “us,” not “them.”
I’ve spent my whole life fantasizing about “us,” and years trying to learn what it takes to be part of that.
I wish I could say I’ve discovered some great secret to forming deep, meaningful relationships and feeling less alone in the world, but that would be a lie.
I haven’t discovered any one thing that turns strangers into friends, and friends into family. I have, however, identified countless tiny things, which, compounded over time, can make a massive difference.
And that’s how Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges was born. As you may recall, I launched the book in October of last year.
I wanted it to be a comprehensive list of small things we can do, every day, to create deep, meaningful connections with the people around us.
I wanted to offer specific, actionable ways to show kindness, compassion, trust, and support; to be authentic, accepting, forgiving, and encouraging.
They’re abstract ideas, and not always easy to put into practice, especially when you factor in that other people are flawed and scared, just like us.
Though I still don’t feel as connected as I’d like to be—a natural consequence of moving every two years for the past sixteen—I no longer live alone on the Alcatraz in my head.
I have healed relationships from my past, dug beneath the surface with people who would otherwise have remained acquaintances, and most importantly, strengthened my relationship with myself so that I finally believe I am worthy of being loved and fully seen.
And I feel proud that I’ve created a book that, I’ve been told, has helped other people do the same.
If you grabbed a copy last year, you may be at the halfway point now—meaning you’ve completed six months of challenges pertaining to kindness, compassion, authenticity, forgiveness, attention, and honesty.
I’d love to know how this experience has been for you—if you feel more connected, if you’ve strengthened your relationships, or if there have been any other pleasant, unexpected side effects of taking these action steps.
And if you don’t have a copy, I’d like to offer you a chance to win one today. I’m giving away five autographed books, and all you need to do is leave a comment answering one of the following questions:
-What is one thing you believe most people want to receive from the people they love?
-What is one thing you believe most people want to hear from the people they love?
-What do you think it means to love someone?
Your comment doesn’t need to be any specific length; in fact, it can be one word. However much you choose to write, know that you are giving all Tiny Buddha readers a gift through your time and effort.
Whatever you choose to write could inspire someone, guide them toward a life-changing epiphany, or help them form deeper, more meaningful relationships with the people around them.
Your comment is, in itself, a tiny act of love. And I will be the first to say that I am grateful for it.
You can enter the giveaway until Wednesday, July 13th, and you can learn more about Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges, or grab a copy, here.