This video is probably only for people like me that are in true self-isolation during the pandemic. It may help you understand what is going on inside, which is a great step in coming to terms with things. The video ends with a variety of tools you can add to your toolbox to not just get through the days and weeks, but to thrive!
Sadly, I predict during this time, most suicides will come from people like me that are not allowed to have normal human interactions for extended weeks in forced solitary confinement. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME – I am not suicidal! Don’t call the black helicopters on me, but I can see many people out there fraying at the edges. If you ARE having these thoughts, visit Wikipedia’s list of suicide crisis lines or if here in New Zealand, call 0800 543 354. It’s ok to ask for help, in fact it is an admirable quality.
Most people are not close to that stage but if living alone, you may notice yourself feeling SUPER WEIRD, even if you’re used to having a lot of alone time. Understanding your psyche and analyzing what is happening will help. I’ll begin by telling you my story!
I am currently surprised here, on day 16 of lockdown experience, at my high level of loneliness. I know the difference between being alone and being lonely. I’m a travel photographer. I spend the vast majority of my life being alone, but I do have a close circle of friends that understand me (I’m hard to understand) and I know they are around when I want to connect. I go down to the pub. I see Dave Gent. We have a bro hug and he says something mean about me but I think he means the opposite, but at least I hope he does, and that strangely makes me feel better about everything. And then we talk about books or sci-fi shows or whatever. That’s a very natural way of human connection that is now not allowed.
When I travel for photography, I’m always meeting random people whom I chat up! The Uber driver, another tourist on a trail, the waiter at a restaurant, whatever. I am an introvert for sure, so I don’t have an over-the-top craving for having human moments with other humans, but I do have some. When you get absolutely zero after an extended period of time, you may begin to think there is something wrong with you. But it’s not you… It’s just the circumstances.
It’s proven that happiness is directly correlated to social connections. Here’s a link to Sam Harris’ latest ( podcast about Happiness ) that you’ll find interesting. Social cohesion and connections are directly related to health and how long you live. Many of you out there are at least with a family or roommates. Even if you don’t get along 100%, you know that, at base-level, they are there to care for you and love you. Those of us living alone are completely deprived of all human interaction, which is something that perhaps others can’t understand.
The government does a great job of making people understand the physical reasons for being apart, but they do ZERO for helping with your mental situation… and maybe that’s why people like me make videos like this.
Again, this video is built for people that are completely alone in a box of walls with no other human souls around. But, maybe if you feel alone even with other humans around, then it’s kinda for you too. 🙂
Or maybe you at least have a dog or cat or something. I don’t… If anyone has an extra dog laying around, let me know!
If you’re alone, you may not feel worthy of love or being with someone or whatever… hey – look at me, I’m totally alone. I walk around the neighborhood… no one is allowed to really connect or give a hug or whatever – it’s like racism and I’m a black guy in the 1930s or whatever. And I’m like, I’m here in the whitest area of the world and like, hey where’re all the white women at? (Blazing Saddles joke there that might have missed a few people).
When you live alone in isolation and then you walk out in public and people automatically shun you, it makes you feel even weirder! It might reinforce a lot of those strange nascent triggers from childhood… maybe you’re kind of self-hating or don’t feel worthy of love or friendship or whatevs. So you return from being publicly shunned back to your little cave to spend the rest of the day and evening totally alone. It may reinforce some of these negative ideas that are not true at all, but they appear to be obviously true because it’s apparently your lot in life.
Remember that it’s not about you even though it may appear to be since you are the central view for your whole life. Most other people are much more concerned about themselves than YOUR wellbeing. So, you can always zig when they zag and do your best to be focused on other people. I mentioned this in the anxiety video earlier as well. A great way to get out of your own head is to help other people. This is also a proven way to increase your own happiness.
Scientists have done many experiments where they isolate rats in boxes. Starved of any interaction, they can go a litttttle crazy. The government is unintentionally doing an experiment and putting billions of people in cages at once. It’s never been done in the history of the world and they may discover it’s a rather reckless idea.
This sounds terrible… and it may be an accidental mass experiment gone awry because governments now realize they don’t have the hospital bed capacity, but It may be better for some people to die than for millions of humans not to be allowed to connect and be regular humans. It also wreaks havoc on the economy, causes people to lose jobs, and causes many suicides for people that can no longer financially support their family or company. It will be interesting to see what happens in Sweden, where everything is normal if you are under 70. The infection rate is extremely high but perhaps other factors like mental well-being and the economy are doing well. We don’t have the data yet, but putting the tragic deaths to one side, it will be good to analyze after the storm.
Anyway, when the government forces an intelligent rat into a box, it’s mind can spin out of control, thinking it is not a worthy rat. That other rats don’t want to hang out with it and talk about the hamster wheel or whatever. I’m crossing species but you get the idea.
And it’s NOT a conspiracy against government. They didn’t anticipate this. They realize they don’t have enough hospital beds with oxygen gear for the small percentage of people that need to be intubated. They decided to sacrifice the economy with a lockdown but they did not anticipate what it does for those of us that live totally alone.
It’s not a conspiracy. It’s not about you. Just because you’re alone it doesn’t mean you are meant to be alone. Don’t let the silly government drum up thoughts from your childhood that you are unworthy of being loved and supposed to be alone until you die blah blah blah… you’re just in a weird glass cage on social media – it’ll be fine and ALMOST everything will go back to normal soon!
One nice thing to remember is that you were probably a fairly functional member of society before this thing, right? So it stands to reason that you will be after it passes as well. Just hang in there, yo!
OKAY. SO. How do you get through the next X weeks or days?
Teaching yourself meditation and mindfulness is pretty tough. If you’re new to it, it’s often best to go through it with a group at a retreat or something. But, I’ll put resources like Sam Harris’ Waking Up app here: https://wakingup.com/
Since most people won’t do that, here are some ideas for you to stay in a mostly positive frame of mind. These are written from my own perspective… feel free to adopt one or all of them!
1) Wake up and think of 5 things you’re grateful for
2) Eat healthy… forcing veggies into your gut will do wonders for your attitude.
3) Exercise. I do 2 things a day, but maybe I’m an overachiever. I do yoga for 15-60 minutes depending on how lazy I feel and walk for at least an hour.
4) Help other people in whatever way you can – this has a huge impact on your own personal happiness
5) Have meals on Zoom with some remote friends or family members. People normally only use video conferencing for WORK, but you can use it for fun too!
6) Make plans for AFTER the local lockdown and after the larger world gets back to normal. Plan a family trip, even though you may not have the exact dates.
7) [Forgot to put this in the video] Try to do a LITTLE work or SOME creativity every day. It doesn’t have to be some huge project, but this will give you a feeling of agency and control. It’s actually not just a feeling – it’s actual agency and control.
8) Stop watching or reading the news around 5 PM. Not much will change before you check it again in the morning.
9) If you are the type that will have beer or wine, the evening is a good time to start. Don’t drink all day or you’ll just feel extra sorry for yourself and it will mess with your gut/brain balance and stress you out even more.
10) At night, I only watch funny or entertaining stuff… play games… goof around.
11) HOT SLEEP TIP! This one applies to sleep and is only valid for you if you don’t have regular work hours from home during isolation. If you can’t sleep, don’t worry. Get up and distract yourself. If you don’t fall asleep hard until 5 AM – that’s fine – sleep till noon. Who cares? Get your 8 hours in… that will make your brain feel most normal and least frazzled.
Finally, before a whole load of resources below…Hang in there – If I can do anything for you, lemme know. All of us loners are in this together. Love you guys and I got your back! 🙂
Many are on [Netflix – as indicated]. Others are not… It turns out it’s very hard to make a list like this! I’ll continue to add to this list as time goes on… time, hey? 🙂
TV SHOWS – FUN or FUNNY
FleaBag – If you don’t watch this, our nascent friendship is over – there is also a new performance where she does a one woman show in the National Theatre in London that you can watch online.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Probably my favorite show of all time.
Curb Your Enthusiasm – From the creator of Seinfeld. No need to watch in order… start with any season as they are all great. I recommend season 6 and beyond
Rick & Morty [on Netflix] – Too funny whether you are sober, drunk, or high
Sex Education [on Netflix] – Hilarious British show about a sex therapist mom and son
The Good Place [on Netflix] – Clever show about people in “heaven”
Flight of the Conchords – Musical comedy from New Zealand
Life’s Too Short – Ricky Gervais comedy
Schitt’s Creek [on Netflix] – stick through the first season it gets hilarious or start season 2
7 Days in Hell – Tennis mockumentary with Andy Samberg
Extras – Ricky Gervais Comedy
Twin Peaks – the old and new series from David Lynch
Conan without Borders [on Netflix] – Hilarious travel show
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [on Netflix]- Seinfeld gets a coffee with a new comedian every episode
The Eliza Slesinger Comedy Sketch Show [on Netflix] – This lady is hilarious
Travels with Father [on Netflix] – Funny show about a comedian that travels with his grumpy conservative father. Some scenes are a bit “set up” but still entertaining…
DUMB Funny Shows that keep me entertained
Brooklyn Nine-Nine [on Netflix] – More funny Andy Samberg
Toast of London [on Netflix] – Funny show about a voice actor
Last Man on Earth – Like it sounds
What We do in Shadows – TV show based on the vampire mockumentary
Samsara – While not technically a documentary, it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting things you’ll ever see
Exit Through the Gift Shop – Surprise doco about Banksy
Tales from the Tour Bus – Hilarious animated real stories of touring rock bands
Struggle [on Netflix] – A doco about an amazing artist you’ve never heard of
Inside Bill’s Brain [on Netflix]- 3 part interesting doco about Bill Gates
Chef’s Table [on Netflix]- The most beautiful food show you’ll ever see
Abstract [on Netflix] – Incredible doco about creativity
Fantastic Fungi – About the magic of mushrooms – Download here
Abstract [on Netflix] – Each episode shows a different creative process.
Tiger King; Murder Mayhem Madness [on Netflix] – Crazy doco about a guy that collects big cats
ZZ Top Texas [on Netflix] – Cool doco about the band
Goop Lab [on Netflix] – Only episode 1 about mushrooms is good. The rest are dumb.
Behind the Curve [on Netflix] – Debunks those silly flat-Earthers
TV SHOWS – DRAMAS
Chernobyl – Amazing gripping drama
Ozark [on Netflix] – Intense show with Jason Bateman
House of Cards [on Netflix] – Presidential drama… Spacey is great.
After Life [on Netflix] – Funny/Sad show with Ricky Gervais
Season 1 of Fargo [on Netflix] – Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman in a murder drama
TV SHOWS – SCI-FI / FANTASY
Black Mirror [on Netflix]- Watch every one! The first one may be too intense but stick with it… each episode stands alone
West World – Great Sci-Fi show. A bit tough to follow but that makes it interesting in a way.
The Mandalorian – Even if you don’t like Star Wars, you’ll like this series.
The Platform [on Netflix] – Dark weird movie that is quite gripping
All Wes Anderson Movies: Any order is fine… I recommend: “Moonrise Kingdom” then “The Darjeeling Limited” then “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” then “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Tarantino Movies: “Pulp Fiction” then “Django Unchained” then “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” then “Inglorious Basterds”
Woody Allen Movies: “Midnight in Paris” then “Vicky Christina Barcelona”
Chris Nolan movies with Hans Zimmer Soundtracks: “Inception” + “Interstellar” + “Momento” + “The Dark Night”
Taika movies: “Jojo Rabbit” and “Thor: Ragnorak” and “What We Do in Shadows”
Ed Norton Movies: “Fight Club” + “American History X”
Leo DiCap movies: “The Revenant” + “The Wolf of Wallstreet” + “Titanic” + “The Aviator” + “Catch Me if you Can”
Joaquin Phoenix movies: “Her” + “Joker” + “Walk the Line”
Christian Bale Movies: “American Psycho” + “The Machinist” + “The Prestige”
Kevin Spacey Movies: “American Beauty” + “The Usual Suspects”
Will Farrell movies: “Anchorman” + “Blades of Glory” + “Step brothers” + “Talladega Nights”
DDL Movies: “There Will be Blood” + “My Left Foot” + “Gangs of New York”
Sacha Baron Cohen vehicles: “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” + “The Dictator”
“Tropic Thunder” – Hilarious Vietnam War movie with Robert Downey Jr and Ben Stiller
“Team America: World Police”: Hilarious movie from the South Park creators
“Gladiator” – when I first fell in love with Hans’ music
“Unforgiven” – Clint’s best!
“The Social Network” – About the founding of Facebook
“Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” – beautiful movie
“Lost in Translation” – Bill Murray + Scarlett Johannson
“Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” – some of the best art in a decade
“Mad Max: Fury Road” – genius cinematography
“A Star is Born” – that Bradley Cooper can do anything
“Yesterday” – Fun movie about a world that has never heard of The Beatles
“Chinatown” – Genius Roman Polanski Movie
…more to come…
“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer
“A New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle
“Sapiens” (and his other books) by Yuval Noah Hurari
…more to come…
Sam Harris “Making Sense” – Everything from science to consciousness. He’s the dude.
“The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos”
/Reply-All – Entertaining and funny show around tech investigations…start with “The Snapchat Thief” to get an idea of what it’s about
“The Dream” – Start with Season 1 Episode 1… just great storytelling and journalism.
“Naval” – very smart 1-2 minute podcast episodes, often business or consciousness-related
“Ron Burgundy Podcast” – You know you want it
Joe Rogan has some good episodes… skip the MMA ones if you’re not into that.
Tim Ferris has some good ones…
“Revisionist History” with Malcolm Gladwell
“The Kevin Rose Show” – Always interesting guests, except for the one when I was a guest.
“Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” – funny stuff
“Stuff that will Blow Your Mind” – get some fun science in…
MEDITATION AND YOGA
Sam Harris Waking Up App – It costs $$ but if you can’t afford it, contact them and they’ll make it FREE for you because Sam’s a dude! Get it at wakingup.com.
Yoga With Adriene – She’s a fun gal in Austin with a lot of beginner-focused yoga.
MASTERCLASS.COM – My Favorite classes
Kevin Spacey teaches acting
Warner Herzog teaches documentary making
Hans Zimmer teaches film music
Chris Voss teaches Negotiation
David Lynch teaches directing
And finally… People asked about my shirt – it’s from Mount Edward Winery and they have a cool DJ thing going on – join us!.