We are simultaneously hardwired and starved for it.
A recent study cited that over 50% of adults and nearly 80% of young adults admit to feeling lonely. Marginalized communities are even harder hit. (Learn more here.)
Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States, calls it a loneliness epidemic.
Ironically, this is an age where we have more tools to connect than ever before. Clearly, it is not a tool issue.
And loneliness does not equal solitude. In meditation or a simple walk in the woods, you can find a deep connection to self and to things far beyond the self.
For myself, I have suffered from loneliness in the break from my family (a longer story for another time) and in my journey of entrepreneurship. Feeling like no one understood what I was going through, only to find out that suffering is one thing we all share and something better overcome together.
So how do we become connectors? Here is what works for me.
I start each day with a brief meditation to connect to my body, mind and soul, and I set an intention for how I want to show up that day.
When I walk or run, I try as much as possible to do it in nature to remind myself that I am but one part of the greater landscape.
I have started by offering up a smile to every person I make eye contact with, trying to create a micro ripple effect of joy.
For the brief interactions in my day, from people in elevators to servers, I intentionally try to go beyond transactional conversation with the simple practice of asking people what has been exciting about their day or what they will remember from their day. They don’t always have an answer, and some, admittedly, find it offputting, but it does lightly jolt them out of the machinal way we often go through our days.
When I can sit down for a longer conversation, I commit to being fully there for the person in front of me. No cell phones nearby. No distractions. I am present for not only what is being said but also the energy with which the person is arriving.
Lastly, I am trying to build a community of shared values and thoughts. For those who believe that becoming the best version of ourselves and being of service to others is important, I want to create a space to convene, connect and share. Our journeys are not always easy, and there is no reason to go it alone.
How about you?
What is one simple thing you could do today to build connection for yourself and others?
Is it talking to a stranger or joining a community group?
What does that look like for you?
Life is short. And even shorter for those suffering from chronic loneliness.
For you, your family, your neighbour, your community and your planet – let’s commit to connecting deeply and often.
Let’s do this.