In 2023, I hope each of you is able to set goals/intentions/resolutions/etc. and fill your own cup while doing so. We all know you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Here are the links to the rest of the series!
Reflection – 1/3/23
Rest – 1/6/23
Movement – 1/9
Rituals – 1/12
Today’s post will be about “Connection”
Just like with “rituals,” I tend to think more about connection around the holidays. Why does it seem more important to see and connect with our families, friends, and loved ones between November and January? Does that go back to our rituals and traditions more than the cold weather and being stuck inside?
No single answer applies.
Suffice it to say, the holidays are just a good reminder to connect with the people I love.
Our satisfaction with our social connectedness is the single biggest predictor of overall happiness.
Read that again.
OK, so connection – what does that mean?
To put it another way: good social connections are the most consistent predictor of a happy life. This study was conducted at Stanford University’s CCARE (the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research & Education) and asks Is social connection the best path to happiness?
To summarize: connection is not just social interaction, but meaningful social interaction that makes you feel connected to an individual or to a group of people, or even just humanity.
We all start somewhere, and family is a forever kind of connection. Even when they are not present, they influence more than you think about your life. If you’re lucky, your family’s dysfunction is compatible with yours and they are a positive force in your life.
Then there is the family you build for yourself – this could be a domestic partner, kids, or the friends you make in to your family. We all build this network, small or large, to suit us.
If they are your family of choice or a more traditional friend dynamic, these are the people who are our peers from the time we hit school through the retirement home. Who they are and how often you see them, what you do and how you connect, defines a lot of your connection satisfaction.
Here are some other thoughts about how much social connection you really need, which is probably not as much as you think.
We spend a lot of time there. For me, as a WFH virtual therapist, my work engagement is with my clients, not coworkers right now, but it can be both. My connection to my clients is super important, not only for the therapeutic process but also for my need for social connection.
What is your community? Your neighborhood? Your book club? Your place of worship? Your gym? Volunteering? Whatever it is, these are the people you see around. Some of them are friends, some are strangers that will pass through. But they are important, also. Here is another article on the importance of connection from 10% Happier and the Dalai Lama where they talk about things like wise selfishness and being a social animal.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”– Mahatma Gandhi
I am not certain where the line between community and humanity would be, but it might also be in how we treat the least among us. One of the striking things I noticed in one of the videos in the 10% Happier challenge was the part about how animals are treated in the town of Dharamsala in Nepal. The street animals – of all kinds, but they showed cats, dogs, cattle and birds – are treated well there.. The animals were cared for, fed, sheltered, and they were not abused or afraid of people at all. They were relaxed. Can you imagine how that would work in your town?
This, of course, just does not apply to animals but to all of humanity.
Here’s one thing we forget to connect to. What do you like, what is important to you? A lot of the other articles in this series focus on those things, but I cannot forget to mention it. I am always surprised when I ask someone what they like and they do not know. How can you not know what you like? We all need things to connect to for just ourselves as well.
All kinds of connections
So what do you connect to? Can you name something in each of these categories? What is the first thing that comes to mind?
Here are some of mine (in the graphic):
What are yours? Let me know!