Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with a friend I had not seen in a long time. Our lives are very different and we are very different people. She is retired yet when she worked we had different jobs, she kinda works out while I am a fan of the workout, she likes shopping, me not so much. We have more differences and less common factors. What keeps our friendship strongly intact is the power of our friendship connection. Our relationship in which we are bonded to each other. There links that connect us.

Today is a great day to talk about connections.

If you think about it, connections with others is something we all desire and need. We all are searching for a place where we feel we belong, people we feel linked to. Scientist Matthew Lieberman in an article in the Scientific American in 2013 talked how research has shown that social pain is real pain. We want to be connected because it is a key element to our our survival and happiness. An article in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry in 2017 based on research found that social connectedness improves mental health.

Being connected with others is a big deal.

Let’s be clear about what type of connections are healthiest. This is not about the amount of people who know and interact with. This is about connections where you feel listened to and understood, where you feel accepted in a relationship for who you are. It about deep bonds of love, caring, support. The connections with others where even if they see you at your worst they will still love and care for you. These are connections that are about who you are, not what you are.

In a world where we are supposedly more “connected” due to social media and all it brings, the reality is that people are more lonely. Loneliness is a universal emotion. Have you ever had a time you were in a room full of people that you knew and felt alone? The answer is probably yes. According to an article by VeryWell Mind from September 2019 “loneliness is actually a state of mind. Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted”.  Being chronically lonely can cause health problems. It can hurt your heart, brain, increase your chance of getting depressed, abusing substances.

When I am out and about at the store, my gym, getting gas in my car, work I look at the people around me. More often than not I see individuals looking down, sad faces, stressed faces, and some totally focused on their phones. While living has many glorious, beautiful moments, living can be incredibly stressful and hard. What helps to make the hard times a less stressful is our connections. The people in our life who are there for us, and we are there for them.

An important side note when you are stressed, doing good for others will decrease your stress. In a article in NPR in 2015 titled “Be Kind, Unkind: How helping others can keep stress in check” Emily Ansell, psychiatry professor at Yale School of Medicine ” thinks you should do the good deed, and not just because it’s the nice thing to do. The psychiatry professor says lending a hand could actually help you feel less stressed out. Ansell co-authored a report with two of her Yale School of Medicine colleagues, Elizabeth Raposa and Holly Laws, that found as much.Researchers already knew that people who are generally inclined toward altruism tend to be happier and live longer than those who aren’t. What Ansell and her colleagues discovered is that whatever your baseline level of antipathy may be, hating people a little bit less for the day can make you feel better. “It’s not just whether you’re more altruistic than the next person,” Ansell says, “it’s that being more altruistic than usual can change your experience from day to day. It’s all about doing more than your average.”

You have the POWER and CONTROL to take an action that will help improve your mood, feeling connected, and overall sense of wellbeing.

You have the POWER and CONTROL to take an action that can help improve the mood, connectedness, and sense of wellbeing of someone else.  Yes you.

I am asking everyone to take the CONNECTION CHALLENGE. To do it for ourselves and to do it to create a ripple of good for anyone you come in contact with. When you are out and about put your phone away (unless you are checking your shopping list) look at people, smile, and say hello. Yep that’s it. Keep it simple. Use your power of goodness that resides in you (even when some days it is hard to feel your inner good) to show your care and concern for others. Do it for others and for yourself. Everyone needs and deserves kindness and connection.  Every single one of us.

So most amazing person look at the connections in your life. Take stock about the people around you. Do they bring you up, support and love you unconditionally, or do you end up somehow feeling worse about yourself when you are around them? If the people in your life are bringing you more down make some changes. Have a courageous conversation with them about how you feel.  For some individuals you may need to distance and spend less time with them. There are times that you might need to totally break ties with people in your life that do you more harm than good. If you are looking for more solid connections in your life take an action. Do things that you like to do, reach out to people you want to get to know better, volunteer, do something. Even though it may not feel like it you do have the POWER and CONTROL to do good for yourself.  You so matter in this world!

May your connectedness be with you💜

Photo by Natan Anderson UnSplash