The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen and build rapport with compassion, engaging all of our senses. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our time and attention.
How can we all learn to connect socially in a more relevant way? Well the research suggests that compassion is one of our number one advantages and first instincts we have as mammals and that if we feel and project compassion to others we will reap measurable benefits. Even at 2 years old, we humans will naturally reach out to another child who might be injured or in emotional strife.
As adults our instincts might be to share and help others, but often we stop ourselves for fear the recipient might think we want something in return or we self-judge and convince ourselves out of this selfless state for one reason or another. But when we do this we are not only missing out on the wellness component of social compassion, but we are psycho-physiologically suffering as well.
That sense of subjective belonging has multiple rewards for us. We are 50% more likely to live a longer life with a stronger gene expression for immunity and we will have lower rates of anxiety and depression just by reaching out to others. By being more connected in a meaningful way, we will enjoy higher self-esteem and empathy and we will be better able to regulate our emotions. This all creates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being. Brain imaging studies actually show greater brain growth and synaptic activity when subjects are exposed to photos of compassion and when they actually act on their altruism the advantages are compounded.
And the science goes onto show that by NOT having social connection or LOW connection, that it is actually worse for our health than smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Low connection is associated with higher cellular inflammation, which is a high health risk and the rate of anxiety and depression also increases when we don’t feel connected. Without connection we have slower rates of recovery from diseases, increased antisocial behavior and even violence and higher rates of suicide.
We know that loneliness, isolation and alienation are on the rise due to many factors; some are that family and friends live apart and don’t have the physical contact that perhaps their parents and grandparents had. And there is growing reason to believe that social media is another factor as some people replace their devices with real time human interaction. Loneliness is the main reason why people seek psychological counseling as they struggle with a lack of hope or change for now and the future.
But here is a shocking statistic from 2004 where 25% of Americans claimed they had no one with whom they could share a personal problem. This percentage has risen drastically over the past 12 years, which is truly sad.
Even if you consider yourself a loner or an introvert, there is however still a ray of sunshine for you. These health and wellness benefits don’t relate to, “how many” friends you have, but instead your internal sense of connection. So, in this case, if you “feel” your 1,000+ Facebook friends are truly there for you and believe they can really help you in times of duress and need, then you are obtaining connection benefits. This is true as well with kids who will play with anyone on the playground; they feel genuinely connected for that time period from within themselves so they are obtaining a warm and fuzzy return as well. Ever wonder why that guy sitting next to you on the airplane is getting deep and meaningful? He’s possibly getting his monthly dose of “connection” with no fear, no guilt and no shame cheapest generic ventolin. Smile, you just got a big healthy boost of compassion.
You can actually learn, build and nurture an internal sense of connection by giving, sharing, supporting and doing random and scheduled acts of kindness for others. The research supports that volunteering and compassion has huge health benefits and creates a sense of connection and purpose in life. And if you need help, ask for help; it creates a sense of connection and belonging for those that we ask, which also benefits them as well as ourselves.
Being happy within yourself and taking care of your body, mind and spirit lowers your stress levels and increases your sense of connection and willingness to reach out to others making them happier and increasing the overall circle of connectedness.
At Stanford University Medical School there is even a class on offer called, “Compassion Cultivation Training”. Isn’t it amazing that a class such as this is now taught to Medical Students? And how wonderful it is that Western Medicine is making a turn to preventative health and wellness in 2016; perhaps there will soon be a new paradigm for doctors and their, “bedside manner”.
Mind Wellness offers Group Workshops where you can experience the power of compassion and connectedness together; contact us now to find out where and when.