Many people I talk to about ‘connection’ don’t seem to fully understand how important it is or why – until I bring it to their attention.
We can’t measure it, and we don’t have some sort of gauge for ‘connection’ that tells us when we’re high, or when we’re getting low. So most people don’t think about it much.
Not until the lack of connection sneaks up on them, and even then, it’s quite unlikely that they will attribute what they’re experiencing to dis-connection.
We’re not taught that we need to be mindful of, and practice connection. Yes, practice.
So you may not be sure how to practice it, or even know that it takes practice. We didn’t used to need to learn it or practice it because we used to live closer to our families, and we were more engaged in communities.
Now we’re scattered. Global. Digital. Busy. Always busy. Too busy. It actually means we have to work to stay engaged, to find meaning, belonging, connection…sadly.
So before I get into connection and how to practice it, let me talk about a practice that’s a bit more familiar to most folks, and I’ll relate it to connection.
We all know it’s important. But all too many of us don’t practice it as often, as deeply or as consistently as we could to experience the absolutely staggering benefits it delivers.
We give it plenty of lip service. We might have a gratitude prayer memorized, or casually quip about being thankful, or ‘blessed’. Someone dies, or we get very sick, we may have even survived cancer (umm…me), and promise “Im never going to spend another day being ungrateful again” or “Im going to be happy to be alive everyday, seize every moment”.
We keep the promises. For about two weeks. Until the next terrible thing or wake up call arrives.
On the other hand, if you do keep a gratitude practice magical things happen. A practice looks like this: you involve your whole being and your emotions. Maybe you write things out. Maybe you are still and meditate about everything you’re grateful for. You visualize people who don’t have what you have and imagine what that would be like.
Do these things consistently and your entire perspective, mindset, and happiness level will begin to change. Heck, the entire trajectory of your life could change.
But what you don’t use, you lose. Just like any other practice that requires consistency in order to continually reap benefits, gratitude requires it too. Stop being mindfully grateful and you once again find yourself complaining, worrying, or wanting.
Now take connection.
Science tells us that our health and well being suffer greatly, and that our life expectancy declines when we don’t feel belonging and connection. It’s a fundamental human need.
Most everyone would agree and understand on an intellectual level that it’s important to feel like you belong, to not feel alone, to interact with others, to share, to unite, to be kind and know that we are all one.
Most everyone understands that awesome feeling of joy when you feel understood, when you just click with someone, or when you have a pleasant and unexpected encounter with a stranger.
Most people would agree that the world would be a much more peaceful place if we all learned how to bridge the differences and get along better. If we listened more and argued less. If we made more of an effort to step into another’s shoes, if we were more fair, compassionate, collaborative and considerate.
See, I believe that all of that can happen, ONLY if we start practicing connection.
Connection is a practice towards benefits that are intangible, but that you absolutely recognize once you have them – just like gratitude. Simply giving it lip-service doesn’t work.
And yes – you lose it if you don’t use it.
We have been losing it.
The result is increasing levels of tension, division and polarizations in our society. And increasing rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, addictions, and suicides.
Practice connection. We must.
My next post will give you a list of ways to do it.
For now, please just ask yourself a few questions. Do you feel connected to people? Do you feel like you are known? How often do you speak to others about things that are interesting and deep rather than shallow? How often do you look into a strangers eyes and feel yourself completely present and acknowledging the soul and life that is in them?
How often do you engage in buffering your feelings rather than talking about them? And why?