Those of you who have been travelling on this journey with me for a few years will be familiar with my '5 C's' - 5 activities or attributes that I find consistently have been important to me when it comes to finding meaning, momentum and a more fulfilled life.
They all begin with the letter C:
Curiosity, Creativity, Connection, Contribution and Contemplation.
This week I want to focus on Connection.
Made for Connection
Over the past month I've been watching/binging the TV series Alone (yes I'm very late to the part on this one as it's in its 9th season.
For those unfamiliar with the show, the premise is simple.
10 contestants are dropped off in remote wilderness areas with just ten personal items (and a few essentials) and are given the task of staying there alone for as long as possible.
The person who survives the longest wins half a million dollars.
The contestants have to document their journey of survival on cameras.
You see them hunt, fish, build shelters, make fire and reflect on their journey.
Some last just hours - others last months (at least in the first few seasons that I've watched).
Contestants' reasons for leaving vary and range from starvation to fear, to injury, boredom and the weather.
The conditions of the location are extreme and take their toll, but for many, the most brutal condition of all is loneliness.
Even contestants who boast at the beginning of the show of their ability to spend time alone succumb to loneliness in the end, and a common reflection of those who get to the end of each season goes something like this:
We're just not meant to spend so much time alone - instead, we're built for connection with others.
Thankfully it doesn't take a couple of months in the back blocks of Patagonia or Mongolia to learn this lesson - most of us have learnt it at least once or twice in the settings we live in.
Some of us seem to feel the need for connection more than others. In our house, we have two fairly strong extroverts, two fairly strong introverts and one that sits in the middle.
The extroverts start going a little crazy after a day or two at home (COVID isolation was hell for them), while we introverts can go longer - but in the end, we all thrive when we have meaningful connections with others.
The Benefits of Connection
I feel a little silly writing this... but there are some real benefits of building friendships with others.
There's plenty of science around it too.
Studies have shown that friendship can lead to longer life expectancy, better physical health (such as lower blood pressure and stronger immune systems), happiness, better mental health, feeling secure and more.
Barriers to Connection
Of course, there are plenty of barriers to meaningful connection with others. Some of us perhaps experienced some of these more acutely over the past couple of years with various types of isolation.
For some of us, isolation from others was mandated as a response to COVID (we had quite a few months of it here in Melbourne). Still, at other times isolation results from poor physical or mental health, relocation, broken relationships, death, loss of employment or being part of a minority group or other changes in circumstances (such as moving schools, employment etc).
I'm keenly aware as I write this that some in our community find themselves somewhat isolated due to circumstances outside of their control.
I don't want to make light of the barriers you may be facing right now at all.
I've felt some of these myself and know how difficult it can be. With this week's prompt, my goal isn't to make you feel that isolation even more than you do!
Rather - I hope that it will drive us all to think not only about the connections we have (or don't have) but to motivate us to be more intentional about putting ourselves in places where we can take small steps to become more connected.
Small Steps and/or Hard Work
I emphasise 'small steps' in that last paragraph because, as I mentioned last week - every meaningful relationship starts with small actions.
Every meaningful relationship I've ever had started with two strangers taking a small step.
A smile, a nod, a 'hello', a handshake, an introduction, a coffee.
Maybe this week's prompt is to be more intentional about these small steps.
Each meaningful relationship also takes work.
Good relationships don't just happen.
They take time.
They sometimes take tough conversations.
They thrive on vulnerability.
They are built on shared experiences.
Maybe this week's prompt is to put some work into an existing relationship.
Other Types of Connection
Of course this week you might want to take this prompt in any other direction that comes to mind.
Perhaps the prompt might make you ponder what groups of people you could connect into:
- a community group that might meet around a hobby or interest
- a sporting group that might meet around an activity
- a faith community
- a neighbourhood group
- a volunteer group that might contribute together
Or perhaps this week's prompt might make you ponder how you can grow a connection with the divine or your spirituality.
Or perhaps you might feel prompted this week to look around you and see who might be lacking connection right now.
Your connections may be strong - but perhaps there's someone who would benefit from you drawing them into your community.
Or maybe there's some other aspect of connection that you want to ponder this week:
- connection to nature
- connection to yourself
- online connections
- connections in the workplace
- one on one vs group connections
- ending unhealthy connections
- family connections
- superficial vs meaningful connections
- romantic connections...
Feel free to take this week's prompt (and all the others we're doing each week) in any direction you feel 'prompted' to go!
Connect with Us
Of course - if you'd like to connect with others on this year of prompts, we have our Facebook group, where you're more than welcome to connect.
I look forward to hearing how you go with this week's prompt!
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