Loneliness is NOT an Illusion

We are the MOST “connected” society AND we are the MOST Lonely society! Yes, we celebrate the “illusion” that we do not feel our loneliness because we have apparatus which pretends to keep us “in touch” with “friends.” Many of us are addicted, YES addicted, to our smart phones and tablets with the expectation that our FB posts, or our Tweets, or texting, or our Instagram offerings are showing the WORLD, our world, that we are fully participating and really proud and joyful about our lives even if it looks like our breakfast or our cute pet postings. Yet, loneliness exists. You can see loneliness in the desperate behaviors which surround us.

Example. I came at 8:15 AM to stand in line at REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) for the semi annual “Garage sale.” The store opened at 9:00 AM and I was 40 or 50 in line with 45 minutes to opening. These are hardcore outdoor enthusiasts trying to get a good deal so they can go backpacking, camping, hiking, cycling, kayaking, or whatever. ALL 40 or 50 of these line standers was ON THEIR SMART PHONES! So, I asked the people with me in the lengthening line, “was it mandatory to be on my smart phone as I a waited the store opening?” Pretty much YES. So I pulled out my smart phone so I would not look stupid or upset the others in line, I say sarcastically. I did manage to engage the people around me in conversation and we were clearly old friends by the time we pushed into the store. Because we chatted, I could talk with them to find out if they had found the specific gear that they had arrived so early to acquire. THIS IS NOT UNIQUE. Look around at the line in the expresso place or bus stop or market, or bank or ….

Many of us have lost touch with our ability to have deeper conversations and emotional interactions with real, live, responding, human friends or family. Yes, I have seen, and so have you, people sitting in the same room, even across the table from each other, and TEXTING the person in the room. What is that about? That is about addiction to technology and false idols of communication. The illusion that some how we are not suffering from addiction and loneliness. Two dimensional text messages are NOT a substitute for a hug or looking into the eyes of someone who needs support or encouragement. It does not include gestures, body language, or tone of voice. Texting is NOT the way wisdom and experience can be shared in any meaningful way. Yes, superficial sharing is SAFE and easy and quick but it is NOT a deeply felt human interaction. The kind of interaction that truly supports us.

There have been studies of children raised in Eastern European orphanages where babies and young children were left for hours without human contact and touching. Many of these children grew up with severe mental, emotional, and even physical disabilities. My point is that people need human interaction and nurturing AND technology has NOT found the way to reach out and really touch you like face to face interactions are supposed to offer. AND, if you do not see this effect upon our human culture just look around. People can not speak with clarity or depth about important relationship issues. We seem to require very graphic, adrenaline producing movies, TV, or gaming to get into our very limited attention spans. Teachers are fighting for their classrooms attention and must adjust to the lowest common denominator of the lowest attention span in the room.

People FEEL LONELY. We are NOT connected. We do not honor the wisdom and experience which is shut away in our retirement “homes,” senior housing, and “full care nursing facilities kept separate from our Youth Oriented culture. WE are lonely both Older folks and younger people. There is even discussion regarding a new psychological/emotional symptom in our psychological codes referred to as “Loneliness Syndrome.”

Fear is driving the technology addiction. We do not want to feel left out of this mass behavior. We do not want to be odd or “unpopular.” We do not want to stand up and actually speak because that attracts a spot light of attention and that can feel threatening. “someone may make “fun” of me.” It is easier to be “anonymous” in a snarky text or FB comment. Advertising insists that for our “young” lives to be successful, we must add the latest technology or “app.” We have not evolved so far in the past 35 years of the “Information Age” that the tribal behavior of sharing stories, and maybe wisdom, around the campfire, as we have done for thousands of years, is now SO obsolete and primitive that it does not work any more. Technology has changed the way we live but the need of looking into someone’s eyes as they share their story has not!

Let’s try some silliness and humor.
A dead guy is in line to see St Peter at the “Pearly Gates.” He has his cellphone with him. He walks up to the Gate Keeper and says “Can I take this with me? I am waiting for a Text. BTW (By the way) Pete, what is the WiFi password for heaven?” Or, “Is there a GPS for the “Higher Realms”???”

Though we find ourselves worshipping our: individualism, independence, separation, this can lead to emotional isolation and emotional/spiritual loneliness. Our souls are connected and yet we do not have time to remember this because our technology keeps interrupting our meditation. Yes, we are all connected but the internet still has a ways to evolve before it grasps the deepest levels of sharing, listening, and witnessing the wisdom we can find in each other.

Take a risk! Look a friend or a stranger in the eye and with sincerity ask them who they are. Thank them for being the soul which you have bumped into in the warm dryer called life! We are all in this together, whether you know this or not.

If you want to have this conversation with people who have committed to supporting other people AND their stories, consider our Masters of the Journey Community. You are a blessing and the experiences you have had in this life should be shared (for you and for the witnesses.)

Technology and Spirit

Since the 1980’s and the dawning of the “Information Age,” our modern lives have been driven by advancements in technology. Many of these advances have become time saving “necessities” for how we live, work, and play. The “world” has gotten smaller and, through this technology, more “connected,” if only superficially. As I write this blog, I realize that “blogging” and social media have driven even the wisest of spiritual development leaders to find use of the internet to “spread the word.” (They are just meditating in caves, awaiting disciples to show up.)

Looking at the development of technology also requires me to mention the “downsides” to using technologies when certain limitations have been created by our new dependencies upon instant messaging, smart phone “apps,” and photobombs. Relying on smart phones and computers can isolate us from deeper relationships with other humans (in face to face connection) AND even with ourselves. Many people are addicted to checking their smart phones and can ignore the person sitting in front of them. Messaging in 140 characters does not tell the story. Text messaging does not share the tone of voice, the sarcasm, the curled lip, the smile, any warmth of true care and concern. It does save time to use technology and can help us avoid truly exposing our deeper emotions, but this creates very incomplete communication and connection. Many people have lost the skill of conversing and sharing in the most personal and intimate ways.

Remember that for thousands of years our tribe would sit around the campfire and share stories, dreams, and learned wisdoms. The coffee shop or beer pub and our smart phones are poor substitutes for the cross-generational sharing that seems too often lacking in our modern world. The generational isolation of the youth from their elders (or any older persons with wisdom and life experience) is making the social fabric of our modern world rub very thin.

Since we do not sit around the campfires, where do we share our stories, our dreams, our intuitional learnings, and, most importantly, our touching-connections? Where can we find an “App” which embraces us with a heart felt hug or a view of the scenic majesty of glorious nature? Where can we find the grandeur of the sun setting over the ocean? Where can we view the deep blue sky juxtaposed against the rock and glaciers of our highest mountains? Where does technology allow us to feel the raging power of the surf crashing or the thunder of a waterfall? Where can smart phones allow us to feel the connection of a team in sports, or in business, or in a spiritual healing circle?

I am not saying that we should abandon technology but we may need to rethink how it can used to connect us rather than to isolate us. Video conferencing can be used to build relationships and to create supportive master mind groups where people, separated by physical distance or physical limitations, can connect to share time and deeper feelings. Wisdom can be discussed from the experiences of life’s learnings. People may be able to reach out beyond their families or local communities to find kindred spirits who may feel isolated from like minded people. The survivalists and conspiracy folks are already communicating this way but it could be a tool that consciousness seekers can also benefit from when using available technologies to communicate love or inclusion or acceptance.

We need to “connect” in deeper ways with our “tribe” to find the support, rather than the isolation, which is so necessary for negotiating the challenges of this life.

Thanks for taking your time to read and consider these thoughts. Share, if appropriate.

Consider the Masters of the Journey as a possible tribe of caring, supportive people who you connect with as you travel your path. Whether you know it or not, YOU are a master. YOU have much to share from the experiences learned in your life. YOU can serve by being an accepting witness as another pilgrim shares their story. YOU have more value and significance than you might realize! So Blessings to you on your travels…


Twelve Steps to Promote You and Your Business: Case Study

Do you own your own business? Do you offer a product or service that you wish to promote? Do you love your business and want to see it expanding? Are you creative and tenacious? Any or all of these may define you or may highlight an area that is a challenge for your business success. This article will offer, through a case study, some useful techniques that will assist you in promoting your product or service.

I assume that you have a GOOD product or service, or, at least, a very good idea for a business. No matter how good your product or service is, if people do not know about you, you will not be able to sell your product or service at the highest levels. Since each product/service is different and each market (or community) is unique, you must be creative in interpreting these basic concepts so they apply most appropriately to your specific situation.

The example that I will be using may be a stretch to fit for your business, but when you see the creative ideas that we came up with in coaching this business, you will see how these concepts may be worth trying for your business. This is for a brand new business in the Los Angeles area. The business is a new Rock Band. Obviously the competition is high and average returns are generally low. So how can you use these promotional principles to achieve a greater than average level of success?

Let’s assume that this band is musically good and plays a style of music that people have enjoy. Not all musical experiences are good or enjoyable. This band is talented and creative enough to create their first album/CD and is ready to take it to the next level. No one knows about this band or their music, but there are few venues/clubs that hear their music from the website or CD and are willing to let them play in front of their clients (an audience.)

It is obvious that the band must rehearse their music and create a decent show but how do you promote the band and fill the seats. You need people in the seats to get paid by the club owners and through sales of your CD’s. Eventually, when the band is successful, people will know about them, pay money to come to their shows and buy CD and band related merchandise. Most bands have young people who are focused on their music, not promotion and not the business of getting people to come into the club or venue and pay money for this experience. In fact, most bands are filled with dreamers who can appear to be lazy when it comes to doing “the business.” Dreamers want the audience to magically appear and then adore the band and buy stuff… This is a problem for most businesses. Selling the product or service is a necessary, but often a disliked part of “the business.”

The band was coached on what they might do and their coach held them accountable to go out and do these activities… (Even if we know what to do, we often need help with the accountability of following through on the promotional activities.) Here is the beginning list of necessary promotional activities:
1. Gather names and e-mail addresses for fans and people to invite to the shows. Have an e-mail sign-up list at EVERY event.
2. Get the venues/clubs to help promote shows through their e-mail lists AND ask the club for contact information for any media (TV, radio stations, newsletter, entertainment magazines/newsletters) they advertise with AND a list of many major businesses or organizations within a few miles of their club.
3. Get a list of any internet music promotion websites. Assign someone to contact and update these websites on a regular basis, with enough advanced time.
4. Create a press release and media kit for distribution to entertainment media like TV, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, etc. Be ready to go when you have found the person in the media organization to send these to.
5. Get a list of local colleges in the area of the music venues that might attract fans through college newspapers, college radio stations, or announcements/fliers (OFFER discounts on CD sales when they come to performance and announce that they have heard of their local promotion… Get their e-mails for future promotions…) Offer to play shows, for a discounted rate, for their students to create fans and future conversions to fans/clients.
6. Contact other local bands that may have success in the venue/club and offer to CROSS-Promote by using each other e-mail lists to cross-promote events. (Sign up for the other bands e-mail list to make sure they follow through and send out promotions for your band… and do not forget to send their band info to your e-mail list…) The more successful bands will have large lists. Both bands can win by getting more visibility and may convert fans.
7. Keep your website current with show information and any promotional events. Many businesses are lazy about keeping current but this can be important for communication with your customers/fans.
8. Contact the network of media that the club/venue has provided to promote your event… Allow as much time as possible, 4-6 weeks in advance. Do Not Be Lazy! Send them: media kit, cover letter, press release, and sample of music/CD. FOLLOW UP with telephone call. Do not assume that they will see your stuff and open it and read it. Taking time to find the “right” person in this media outlet can be very important, Do not be lazy… Give them a GOOD REASON to promote your event… The band that I was coaching was donating money from the sales of their CD’s to the Cancer Society and were volunteering to provide music at local cancer fundraising events like the “Relay for Life” fundraisers. Give something back to the community! Also, be timely with current news events, locally or globally, if your product or service can be adapted as a newsworthy item for the media.
9. Contact the local businesses that are in the area of the venue. Speak to the personnel office and offer an employee incentive discount for CD’s sold at the venue. ALSO, ask if the business ever requires entertainment at their employees rallies/picnics, awards programs, or their promotional events. Offer these business a discount for paid business as a “get to know you” networking trade. Promote the local club/venue so that it is a win-win situation for the club’s future cooperation. (The higher up in management you can network at the business, the better the chance of future professional business relationships.) By helping them with their personnel, you can build a relationship with this business that leads to future business relationships. Consider promoting to local service clubs where you can network with other businesses and organizations. Be creative in networking and ask their help with additional networking referrals. Service clubs need entertain or speakers and may be consider sources of clients.
10. At the events, announce future shows, any new merchandise, and consider announcing the donations to a local or large non-profit organization from sale of CD’s or in a donation jar (and send donations to the non-profit…)
11. Offer to volunteer at fundraisers and invite your fans/clients to participate in the good cause, plus get exposure to new fans/clients and promote these events in local media.
12. Contact radio stations for “Playtime” by sending media kit and sample music to the “right people” at the radio stations. Offer to do interviews or play at any fundraisers they are involved with. Always invite radio people to your fundraising events to keep them informed regarding your good work in the community. Always let these people know about new products or major shows that you are offering, to stay in front of their consciousness and to maintain a good relationship.
13. (yes, 13) Join a network which will market your product or service to motivated buyers. Motivation can be created by special rebates, bonuses, or added benefits. (There are networks that do this and if you need examples, just contact us…)

This case study is a current project. So far, the clubs/venues love it and are looking at the band as “professional.” The media likes it and are opening the doors for music radio playtime. The Non-profits love the donations and are getting the band booked for fundraisers and so more community exposure events. The businesses love to offer their employees discount incentives that are entertaining and stress reducing. And by the way, there are more people attending their shows and becoming fans…

Now these promotional principles may need some translation for your business. Be creative. Most of these activities are low cost or no cost. (You can always send lots of money to advertise but you can build better relationships with these low cost activities.) Do not be lazy. If you are struggling with creative ways of applying these promotional ideas, you can get mentoring or coaching that can help translate these activities to fit your business.

Please take good care of yourself.


L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training. He has offered sales coaching to small and mid-size businesses since 1982.Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.