Why We All Need Connection to Be Happy And Healthy
Why do we all crave connection? No matter who you are and what you do, you crave your tribe–a community where you belong, feel supported, and where you are fully accepted and loved for being you. We need our tribe for those times when we are going through a rough patch and we need to find our way back to happy. We need connection with others as much as we need oxygen. It may not seem so critical most times, but I firmly believe that if we truly want to be healthy and happy, connection is one of the most important aspects of personal fulfillment and success.
Just recently, my mom was visiting from Bosnia after my second child was born. As much as she was delighted to spend time with her daughter and grandchildren, after months of being here she said: “I feel sorry for you. You guys are very lonely here, very disconnected.” What she was referring to was the fact that Monday through Friday I wouldn’t see any of my friends. In fact, I wouldn’t see much of anyone that is close to me: not my friends, not my neighbors, and not family.
Back in Bosnia, community is much smaller and they haven’t gotten lost in the busyness of life. They still make the time to go visit their neighbors daily and interact with extended family all the time. It made me think. Between my babies and work, when I had free time – I would spend it on growing my business, but not on connection. As sad it as sounds, that seems to be my priority now. The saddest realization is this: one of my best friends who lives in the same city as I do came to visit me in the hospital 10 months ago when I had my son. She gave birth a few months before I did. I haven’t seen her since. I have talked to her but I haven’t seen her. We live in the same city. This makes me incredibly sad, but it’s a realization of how hard it is to maintain close relationships due to life and business responsibilities. And I am not alone. Studies show that we have 30 percent fewer friends than we did a couple of decades ago. I bet every one of you will agree that true friendships and connections can be hard to maintain with the way our lives are today.
This is why it’s no surprise that social media has exploded. Our bite-sized connection in-between meetings gives us a feeling that we are connected to others, because we absolutely crave it. Human connection is one of the most basic human needs. Finding our tribe (where we can be ourselves) and having a sense of belonging appears to be what is lacking for a lot of people today.
Related: 7 Good Habits of Friendships
In fact, UCLA professor of psychology Matthew Lieberman wrote a book on the topic Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. He writes, “Becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to make us more social.” In an interview for Scientific American, Lieberman’s scientific study shows that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water and if we don’t have it, we suffer psychologically. He also writes: “Data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems. We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts.” That is worth repeating: Our well-being depends on our connection with others.
Being connected with others is crucial for our self esteem and personal identity. I find it to be one of the three prongs of living on purpose: safety, belonging and significance. If one of these is lacking, we are not going to be happy.
I remember watching the movie Into The Wild and hearing the quote: “Happiness is best when shared.”
Having a tribe or a connection with someone is one of the most fundamental aspects if you are trying to live a healthy and happy life. Research shows connection boosts both mental and physical well-being. So, what can we do about it if we are feeling disconnected?
If you have a tribe but you don’t have the time to connect, make the time. I know it sounds simplistic but this aspect is crucial. I know we are all crunched for time (I am with kids at home AND I work part-time so I understand the challenge to fit in something). For me, I met up with my friend and her family and we had a grand time. Then, we met again two weeks later because it felt so good we wanted to run with it.
It doesn’t mean ignoring the responsibilities or focusing solely on our tribe. But infusing our lives with moments of that connection assures us that we are not alone. I don’t know about you, but no matter how confident in myself I am – this is an important aspect for winning in life and business.
It is more challenging to execute when we feel like we don’t have a tribe, and I used to be there. You have to know that there are people out there who get you and who would absolutely love to spend time with you. Find a way to meet new people and your heart, brain and soul will thank you for it. And, when things get tough, you will know there are people who understand and will be there for you. Your connections will make your life better.
So, what will you do? Writing something down makes us commit to it more. How can you connect more in your life? I will be in the comments section waiting and supporting you on your journey. Join me.