Welcome home.

ache

Something there is in each of us that yearns for home.  Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a physical place. We travel back to that place and wonder why it feels different. What has changed? Why doesn’t it still feel like home? Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular time, a past perhaps that wasn’t complicated with today’s troubles, and lose ourselves in nostalgia. Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular person and, if we lose that person, wonder if we will ever feel at home again.

But what if home is not a particular place in time but a feeling we can take steps to cultivate?

What is it, really, that ache for home? Perhaps it is a longing for a time and place when you felt welcome and that someone cared if you were there and was happy to see you. A longing for community, for fitting in. Life is difficult and we are all vulnerable, but that feeling of home makes the burden lighter somehow. Someone cares.

And, while we can’t travel backwards to any particular place or time when we felt at home, we can take steps right now today and every day from now on to be welcoming to others. The people shouting ‘Norm’ felt just as much a part of the community as Norm did when he walked into the bar in the old sitcom Cheers. 

To welcome others and to be welcomed both feel like home. There is as much community in reaching out to others as there is in someone reaching out to you. So consider who may be feeling adrift, in need of a community or a welcoming hand. And then reach out because, when your hands meet, you will both feel a bit more comfortable in this wild unpredictable and often inhospitable world.

Welcome home!

Take a nature bath.

deepnature

When was the last time you hiked? Or paused to admire the intricacy of a flower? Or listened to birds sing? Or felt the breeze tousle your hair?

When times are tough, the tough immerse themselves in nature. It soothes us, comforts us, leads us back to our bearings. While many benefits of nature are unsurprising–relaxation, bliss, awe–some are downright startling. Studies show spending time in nature makes us more altruistic and helps us be more social creatures.

Now, a large body of research is documenting the positive impacts of nature on human flourishing—our social, psychological, and emotional life. Over 100 studies have shown that being in nature, living near nature, or even viewing nature in paintings and videos can have positive impacts on our brains, bodies, feelings, thought processes, and social interactions. In particular, viewing nature seems to be inherently rewarding, producing a cascade of position emotions and calming our nervous systems. These in turn help us to cultivate greater openness, creativity, connection, generosity, and resilience.

Take time today to dip your toe in nature. It’s good for whatever ails you.