Do you hang up the phone after speaking with a friend and feel energized? Or finish a volunteer activity or yoga class, and leave feeling light and at ease as if your stress is melting away? It feels amazing, doesn’t it?! That’s the power of connection. And as much as I love my family and friends, I notice I don’t spend nearly as much time with them as I’d like. Do you feel the same?
Recently, I read the book Blue Zones of Happiness. The Blue Zones are rare areas throughout the world whose people live long, healthy lives well into their 100s. When they studied the people that live in these hotspots—Barbagia, Sardinia; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan—they discovered that food, movement, and attitude play a huge roll in their lives. However, the most foundational factor they found was connection. And if you think about it, most things in life—good or challenging—are so much better when shared with another person. More than likely, it’s less about the nightly glass of red wine, and more about who the wine is shared with.
So how can we use this wisdom to move through life sharing more meals, movement, laughter, and hugs?
Involve Family & Friends. It’s easy to get sucked into the too-busy time-trap, which feels very real when you’re in the thick of it. So how do we mix more connection with our daily and weekly tasks? Here’s a few ideas: schedule daily or weekly workout dates with friends, eat meals with family, take a post-dinner stroll with family, or meal prep and cook with a friend.
Get Involved. Whether it is your spiritual practice, volunteering, or other community organizations, it feels good to get out of your own head and place that energy into improving your community and helping others. If this is an area you’d like to improve, start by jotting down what’s important to you. Then, search for volunteer opportunities or organizations that support that. For example, if education is important to you, you could seek out opportunities teaching Sunday school, volunteering at a school or museum, or becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.
Find the Right Tribe. There are few things better in life than sharing a my-mouth-and-stomach-hurt-so-bad-from-smiling-and-I-can’t-stop-crying belly laugh. It’s vital to have friends and family that support you to be your best self, just as you support them to be their best selves. If you would like to cultivate more positive friendships, consider doing things you enjoy and that align with your values. You may find that new friend at church, in your essential oils class, or volunteering at the Humane Society.
I’d like to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email stating one thing you’ll do this week to cultivate more connection.
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With love, Steph
Buettner, D. (2017). The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People. National Geographic.