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Connection is an intrinsic human need that we all crave. It is the exchange of humanity

Human connection is so vital in life. It is the primary source by which individuals thrive, because it is a key source of wellbeing and happiness.

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Human connection is so vital in life. It is the primary source by which individuals thrive, because it is a key source of wellbeing and happiness.  

This is an evidence-based view, supported by the works of American psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, whose Harvard study of development spans 80 years of analysis of the physical and mental health of people. It showed that it is not necessarily money and fame that are the main sources of happiness, but that loneliness reduces life expectancy and that the factor that determines our health is the quality of our relationships. This is relevant to all of us as ultimately, whether we are in work or education, as it can help shape our present and future respectively.

We also have further evidence that the region of our brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, that sits between our eyes, is activated and desires connection and harmony.

In a world where Instagram and how many followers we have on social media platforms somehow gives the misconception that more followers correlates to being more connected and less lonely, this is far from the truth; it is all about creating those trusting connections.

That said, technology/social media can act as an option to how we communicate or connect to one another and can help maintain the quality of relationships.

We have Zoom and other such tech connectors that have helped older generations keep in touch with families as they have adopted new tech habits, for example. It was the only way for them to sustain connection during some of the loneliest times, due to the pandemic.

We, as humans, need quality over quantity when it comes to connections. Being selective in building those circles of relationships is key. Research suggests, when it comes to friendships, that having between one to four friends is often sufficient to fulfil our needs.

Connections built on trust and respect allow individuals to meet one-another in an honest and open way, which goes a long way in shaping who we reach out to when we are in crisis.

That is why it is so essential for our social wellbeing to make time to form these relationships and to nurture them.

So how do we encourage connection amongst our teams or people so they may feel they belong to a common purpose?

For a start, it is not trying to be something you are not. When we accept ourselves, our fears, vulnerabilities and imperfections, it is very powerful. Being our true selves is how we attract the right connections. What can be helpful here is a practice of mindfulness or meditation so that you ground and find your own self, before understanding who you may be most compatible with.

In the workplace, how can you move from “growing the business” having your eye on the commercials and redirect focus to show care and compassion?

In education, can you take time from your own studies to collaborate on a group project, or to help others?

In sport, how can you be more helpful in the broader team sense; rather than going for goal yourself, could you assist a teammate who is going through a rough patch?

Making time to not just check in with someone but rather, being open, curious and authentic is so important in establishing and maintaining relationships. It is not what you say but how you say it that influences perception. It is not an overnight success – it takes time.

Being present and intentional in your interaction and sustaining everyday connection is really important. Ever see someone ask you how you are whilst checking their phone? Well, that is one way to create barriers to true connection. The idea is to focus on a few key connections each day and make it count.

A classic example: a walk and talk in nature with a friend or family member - it can make all the difference both to the way you feel and how the other feels.

How are you creating moments of connection in your workplace, place of learning or sports club?

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