In today’s wacky world, connecting with other human beings has become a lost art and more difficult for people now than ever. With our eyes, minds, and fingers constantly being hooked to our mini computers we call phones, we have become accustomed to having our head down and communicating with people through written word or bright colored graphics (memes- you eva heard of them?).
Actually sharing some genuine, face-to-face communication with another human is not only enjoyable, but necessary for reducing the constant flow of stress that we collectively feel so often.
We’re not talking about learning the life story of every single person you meet. We’re talking about simple steps like making eye contact or paying someone a compliment. Being present with the people around you instead of constantly being distracted by that mini computer.
On a neurochemical level, when you’re connecting and sharing a genuine moment with someone, your brain is having a firework show like it’s the 4th of July! Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin (the happy and love hormones) are shooting through your system without you even knowing at times.
Has anyone ever held the door for you, looked you in the eye, and wished you a wonderful day? Did you think about how you felt after that? Our guess is, even if you did not realize it at the time, you probably felt pretty darn good. Maybe you were a little nicer to your coworker or a little friendlier to your client that day.
We have been programmed in this culture to think about me and mine, and often forget to think about the collective us. Connection and community is actually a form of taking care of yourself.
Let’s look at the Blue Zones around the world. To keep it simple, the Blue Zones are seven places around world that have been studied to have the longest life expectancy of their residence. One of the big commonalities between these locations is a connection to their community and connection to a small group of very close friends.
Take the Okinawans in Japan, for example. Perhaps their greatest secret is a strong dedication to friends and family. They maintain a powerful social network called a “moai,” a lifelong circle of friends that support each other well into old age.
The Okinawans are put in a moai when they are about 5 years old and travel through life with these close knit friends. Belonging to social networks is a large part of their culture. Alternatively to that view, we live in a society that doesn't promise friends and sadly, about 20% of Americans suffer from loneliness.
By definition, loneliness is the feeling of being isolated, standing apart, “destitute of friendly companionship” and lacking in 3 or less friends that you would not be able to call when things goes array for you. When you are experiencing a significant amount of loneliness, your life expectancy actually decreases by about 8 years. Loneliness is researched to be as bad for your health as a smoking habit!
When someone is feeling lonely, negativity tends to creep in. Negativity creates anxiety. And the anxiety and negativity actually block your cerebral functioning which inhibits things like problem solving and romance. Problem solving skills take you out of that feeling of being stuck and romance brings to you joy and happiness. By blocking that cerebral functioning, you’re actually inhibiting yourself from being truly happy through growth and progression.
Pay attention to the types of human connection and the type of people you are surrounding yourself with. Becoming aware of this gives you the tools to make informed decisions about the people who you spend quality time with. It’s just as important to think about who you don’t surround yourself with as with who you do surround yourself with.
So how do you connect with people on a deeper level? Give a shit. Really! Caring about another person is what will connect you immediately. Here are some steps you can take for a whirl to connect to someone on a deeper level
Mirroring is a conscious or subconscious reflection of someone else’s actions, verbiage, or attitude. By mirroring someone, you are meeting them at their level and developing relatability. If someone feels like they can relate to you, they will instantly feel more connected to you. Try recreating subtle gestures, like crossing your leg when the person you’re talking to crosses their leg, to begin conscious mirroring. 2.
Giving someone validation on their thoughts could be one of the nicest things you can do for someone. Has your brain ever been stuck in that hamster wheel, cycling around what you’re thinking or saying? If it’s happened to you, it’s happened to the person you’re talking to, so give their hamster a water break by validating them (just be sure to be genuine and not inauthentic!).
When you appreciate someone, whether it’s a big or small appreciation, you are showing that person that they matter. One of the biggest human emotions that we all share is that of belonging- belonging to a group, belonging in a family, or even belonging to yourself. Appreciating someone and showing them that they matter will validate for them that in that moment, at the very least that they belong doing what they are doing. Providing someone with that comfort will also flood your own body with feelings of joy, calm and peace.
By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This all circles back to relatability. If you can understand, relate, and share the feelings of what someone else is going through, you will connect with them on such a deeper level. This brings us back to belonging as well. If someone can relate to you, they won’t feel alone, which makes them feel like they belong, which in turn makes them more connected to you, which then releases your happy chemicals and makes you feel less stressed….Boom!
Connection with other humans does not have to be hard. To put it lightly, don’t be a jerk. Care about people, be nice, show appreciation and validation, empathize with what people are going through. Be present and show up for people. You’ll being helping yourself out just as much! Oh, and tell everyone you know about The Conscious Craft! That’s the best way to connect. 😉