“The need for connection and community is as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.” ~ Dean Ornish
The last 3 weeks I’ve been traveling, which has meant for a fuller schedule than normal. While the work I needed to accomplish could have been done within 7-10 days, I scheduled the trip for an extended period of time to allow intentional space for connection.
Connection: To join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to forget to take time for meaningful connection with others. Even with the people dearest to us who we see and engage with daily, our interactions can easily become about the logistics and the doing and thus lack true connection. And yet I agree wholeheartedly with Ornish’s quote about the fundamental need for connection in our lives. I think we need to take the importance of connection more seriously than we do, and treat it as a requirement for staying alive in the same ways that we do regarding air and water and food.
And this is where, and how, optimism is connection. Connection, meaningful connection, is about joining together with others, celebrating the things that bring us together, binding together for something better than what exists or than we can create on our own. It’s about appreciating the diversity and beauty and fulfillment that comes when we are connected to others. The fullness of blessings in our lives as a result of being connected.
So in my last 3 weeks of even more intentional connection, this is how I’ve been celebrating connectedness. Perhaps you can relate to some of these.
- Greetings: How many people do we pass on a daily basis without connection occuring? The people we see on the street or standing in line at the coffee shop or sitting next to us on the subway? During my travels I was reminded of how heartwarming it is when a stranger says Hello or Good Morning. I struck up conversations with strangers and bonded with other delightful humans over sunshine, cute dogs, a delicious beverage, quirky people watching, and Little Free Libraries. I’ve left every encounter feeling a lightness and warmth that comes from being seen, and seeing another awesome human.
- Hugs: According to studies, we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth. I don’t know about you, but it’s rare that I get 12 hugs a day. But this has been one of my intentions this year, and I’ve been hugging so many more people (strangers, friends, loved ones), more often, and longer than ever before. There is little in life that feels as good as an amazing hug… the embrace of sharing energy and care and compassion. Hugs are such a beautiful and meaningful form of connection. Hugs of 20 seconds or more are proven to lower our heart rate and increase endorphins, which means it’s physically impossible to leave a hug not feeling at least a little bit better than when you started.
- Thoughtful Questions: If you’ve known me for very long, you know that I love questions. One of the reasons thoughtful questions bring me joy is because they foster deeper conversations and, as a result, more connection. And so I spend a lot of time trying to ask more thoughtful and deeper questions. How are you and what do you do are questions that I try to replace with alternatives, like “what are you most excited about today”, “what challenge is occupying a lot of your time and energy right now”, and “what big dream are you working towards”.
Click to tweet: So I spend a lot of time trying to ask more thoughtful and deeper questions. How are you and what do you do are questions that I try to replace with alternatives, like “what are you most excited about today”, “what challenge is occupying a lot of your time and energy right now”, and “what big dream are you working towards”.
- Time for Conversations: I realized recently that beyond those I work with and my inner circle, I didn’t always leave space or time for other conversations. I’d see my neighbors in passing and say hi, but I wouldn’t ask many questions. I’d greet the same barista each morning, but never take time to learn about them beyond their job. A lot of this stemmed from always looking ahead to the next thing – being in a hurry or “busy” with whatever else felt pressing – and so I didn’t take that bit of extra time to foster connection. I’ve started approaching these interactions with the expectation that I’ll spend time in conversation – that I’ll take more moments to allow connection to blossom. It hasn’t meant that all of these moments have turned into deeper connections, but in giving more time and space for them to occur, it’s created more opportunities than I would have otherwise. And it’s been fun to approach more of these previously in-passing connections with curiosity and intention, and just see what might come.
So how are you experiencing – or working toward – connection these days? I’d love to hear and celebrate your connection and optimism! Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or head over to Facebook or Instagram, and drop me a note there.
With optimism, connection, and love,