Living alone can be good for you
There's a growing trend among Millennials towards staying single and living alone.
Living arrangements similar to that of the characters in Friends and Sex and the City are now commonplace for them. Most are not reclusive, but spend enormous amounts of time out in the public, joining everything from yoga to jam-making groups, playing Dungeons and Dragons to fronting up regularly at Tuesday Trivia Nights.
It seems that marriage may have become obsolete for many of them.
I like the way the experienced journalist and newspaper editor John Yemma sums up possible reasons: "The idea of marriage as a security blanket, after all, is less compelling if women and men feel emotionally and financially complete on their own and if childbearing outside of marriage is not the taboo it once was." (Christian Science Monitor)
So the tables have turned to some degree. Where our maiden aunts once seemed eccentric, now it's marriage which may seem a novel eccentricity to many Millennials.
But it's not all bad news, even to those who think marriage is a good thing. Surely it's progressive if young people no longer enter into marriage automatically, on a romantic whim or without due thought to its long-term responsibilities - instead acknowledging a real commitment as being vital to a good marriage.
Almost two million Australians live alone. One in four people live in a lone-person household across all age-groups in Australia.
"In some quarters, this trend has been linked to a decline in commitment to family living, increased social fragmentation and a rise in loneliness. For others, living alone has been celebrated as reflecting greater choice," according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Whether it's a choice or due to circumstances such as divorce or the death of a partner, the statistics also imply that men or women living alone - young and old - are not necessarily unhappy or unhealthy. Loneliness doesn't have to be part of the equation as volunteers and community-minded singles will attest.
Despite the considerable research that finds the beneficial effects of marriage - which report increased health, longevity, quality of life and wealth - the thing that seems to matter most is that we FEEL whole and complete, whether married or single.
What I have seen over the years is that wholeness and completeness don't really come FROM our human relationships or circumstances, but are something we should bring TO THEM.
Through my spiritual practice, I have found these qualities most readily from an admission to myself of a divine order, or benevolent Principle, actuating us and gently guiding each of us to whatever meets our human needs.
Some scientific research lends support to this assessment of spirituality as playing a crucial role in maintaining a person's wellbeing, not only in respect to emotional and mental facets of our lives, but in the physical aspects as well.
So finding time alone for prayer or meditation to develop a spiritual viewpoint is of key importance to our happiness, and we can access that equally whether we are single or married.
I can remember vividly the time in my mid-'30s, and with a young family, when setting aside that alone-time in the early morning to learn more about the spiritual-me first became a regular priority. It made a world of difference to my confidence and composure throughout the day. And it still does.
With practice, each of us can more consistently express spiritual qualities, such as commitment, independence, wholeness, abundance, generosity, gratitude, impartiality, and so on, which are the true substance of our happiness, our sense of fulfilment and even our health.
Indeed, Jesus knew both the joys of family life and the independence of being a single man in a society which put a premium on marriage. He showed us that it didn't require a family to love enough to discern and respond to the needs of others. He left all with whom he came into contact uplifted - with a fuller understanding of their life purpose as a child of the God that the Bible says is perfect and Good, whose "understanding is infinite", and who is divine Life, Truth and Love.
By regularly claiming our spiritual credentials as the very expression of that divine Source, we find that we're not missing out on companionship by being single nor can we miss out on personal growth by being married.
Whether we spend all or part of our lives as a single or a married person, living with others or alone, there is no limit to the health we can find, or to the love and contentment we can express.
My own spiritual practice of Christian Science has helped me so much, I'm curious to see how the elements involved are being recognised and implemented in society. For instance, science is increasingly exploring the impact consciousness has on medical outcomes www.health4thinkers.com