As we enter into May and Bermuda Heritage Month, it got me to thinking about all of the wonderful experiences we share together here in Bermuda. We connect for our beloved Bermuda Day Parade, following Gombeys around and wondering how you are going to get back home. There is the half-marathon runners to cheer on, camping out to claim your race/parade spot, and taking that first dip into the ocean, just to name a few. It never ceases to amaze me how we come together to celebrate special days, but just how important is connection and should we be doing more of it?
One of the rules of the mind, or ways we are hard-wired from an evolutionary standpoint, is that we are always ‘seeking connection and avoiding rejection.’ Our ancestors knew it, nurturing and protecting relationships and everyone’s survival at all costs. Although we no longer live like our ancestors did, hunting for food and fleeing from dangerous animals, our minds are still hard-wired the exact same. This same reason is why children are always searching for the commonalities between themselves and their peers. Children don’t want to stand-out or be different – seeking connection and avoiding rejection. However, we are the first human beings to ever try to live without tribes and these lost connections are very much affecting our health.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a researcher at Brigham Young University, conducted a series of studies on middle-aged people to address this very question: ‘What does it take to live to 100 or beyond?’ Her study, producing incredible findings, took a look at many factors, including the obvious; how often they go to the doctor, their marital status, whether they smoke or drank, etc. She found the strongest predictor was Social Integration – the amount of people you interact with as you move through your day. This means connecting with others increases your longevity! This is connecting with your strong bonds, your closest relationships and the people you love dearly, as well as your weaker bonds, people you may briefly see almost daily, has the greatest impact on whether you will live to 100 or not!!! As Johann Hari, a Swiss-British journalist and author, so eloquently stated, “Bees need a hive; Humans need a tribe!”
If you are convinced at how powerful connection is and why we need more of it day-to-day, I share 3 tips below. These tips will help you create more in your life and the lives of others to reap the amazing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits connection brings.
Tip 1: Get into the Habit of Connecting More Deeply, with Everyone
Take your ‘Good Morning’ one powerful step further and slow down, apparently a lost art in Bermuda, to engage in more meaningful and powerful conversation, or BIG TALK, with the person who catches the same bus as you or the barista who makes your grande, skim latte every morning. You can even offer a ride to someone who is at the bus stop and get to talking BIG about life, because we never truly know the impact our smile and kind words and actions can have on another person. It can be the difference between them thinking, “I Matter or I don’t Matter” and this impacts your own feelings of fulfillment and happiness in life.
Tip 2: Ditch the Digital
In an age where the Internet and technology has allowed us to be more digitally connected, we have never been more starved for real, physical human contact. Children have more digitally distracted and emotionally unavailable parents; Marriages and relationships have more checked-out and digitally validated partners. So I invite you to ditch the cell phone when you are spending quality time with family and friends. Children spell LOVE as T-I-M-E and quality time nurturing a marriage/relationship increases overall satisfaction and resilience. Remember, quality time = undivided attention.
Tip 3: Create a Tribe
There is no secret that the western world is ever increasing as an Individualistic society and people are ever more isolated. Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections, has studied this correlation and found that as real, physical connection has decreased, the prevalence of addiction, depression and anxiety increased. He further showed that implementing more connection with the tribe/group/kindred of your choice, for the aforementioned diagnoses, produced amazing and quite surprising solutions and cures, with lasting affects. Just make sure you create and/or join a High Vibe Tribe to reap and spread the profound benefits.
Happy Heritage Month,
Ted Talk by Susan Pinker ~ ‘The Secret to Living Longer May be your Social Life.’
Johann Hari ~ ‘The Best Treatment for Depression Lies in our Evolutionary History.’
BIG TALK created by Kalina Silverman.
Johann Hari ~ Lost Connection: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions.