In July 3rd edition of Time Magazine, an article entitled “You Gotta Have Friends” explores the fact that Americans are more socially isolated today than we were two decades ago. Quite frankly if human connection and a feeling of community is so vital to living a productive and fulfilling life, it sounds like we are not making the grade when it comes to relationships. Why is that?
If I look back two decades, that puts me in the mid-1980’s and in the midst of my high school years. Now, maybe it is because I was a teenager living in a small town, but everyone knew everyone (perhaps TOO much, but that’s a different story). Telephone answering machines were just starting to come into usage and the whole Internet, cell phone, electronic age was just being developed. So, in order to get anything done you had to physically see and actually talk with people. No e-mail, no IM, no text messaging substitutes for real connection.
Why is real connection so important? Well, in many ways it is well-documented. Here’s just a few benefits:
- People live longer (both those healthy and those battling an illness
- Kids thrive
- Generosity expands (if we have a personal connection we tend to give more of ourselves)
- Crime decreases (people are out, about, alert, and aware of what’s going on around them)
- People experience more success in their professional and personal lives (think networking)
What can you do?
Well, I won’t dismiss the value of connections made online. There are some people I have only met online and talked with via telephone that have become very important to me. They have enriched my life and made building my business more fruitful and enjoyable. Yet, there is nothing quite like connecting with someone in person. And, you don’t need to take a ton of time from your busy schedule to reap the benefits of connection. Consider doing just one of these suggestions a few times a month and you’ll notice a big improvement in how you feel and quite possibly a smile on your face.
- Visit with a neighbor in person
- Schedule a date with a long lost pal
- Have a picnic with a loved one
- Play a game with a friend (there’s a reason all those folks who play cards weekly laugh & smile)
- Go for a long walk with a friend or visit a park
- Have a real, live in-depth conversation with someone you love
It may not be rocket science, but making time for little connections like these can turbo boost your mood, health, happiness, and productivity.