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If you have learned nothing else over the past few months of home isolation and social distancing, it is almost inevitable that you have come to value your social connections and most supportive friendships.

Indeed, one of the main reasons humans have flourished on this planet, is because of our cooperative behaviours; our ability to help, support and share new knowledge with each other.

Correspondingly, research shows that the most effective way to foster happiness and inner well-being in ourselves is to open oneself up, make oneself available and be there (be generous, helpful, kind, supportive) for others.

What is it with social connection? Why does it heal us in profound ways, raise us to greater emotional heights and, quite literally, compel us to live longer? If authentic, vulnerable connection with others is such a powerful force for good, how on earth can we embrace and enhance it in our modern, disconnected lives?

We are ‘village’ people, and – as our recent social distancing has highlighted – even the most introverted or isolated among us cannot live a truly flourishing life without reaching out in vulnerable moments. Social connection is a vital key to our well-being.

And that means we can all benefit from placing emphasis on connecting more deeply, and more frequently, with the people around us.

Of course, personal interaction and socialisation is not a one-size-fits-all kind of affair. Striving for greater social connection doesn’t mean we all become social butterflies, with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

And neither does it mean we all begin to limit our social relationships to one or two intimate friends. However, regardless of how ‘social’ we naturally feel, or how comfortable we are in social settings, there are ways we can each strive to enhance our social connectedness:

Break the ice: Introduce yourself to ‘strangers’ you see often — the people you regularly see in your condo, the barista at the local coffee shop, the familiar faces on the morning train.

You’re not expected to become friends with these people, but a simple handshake and a “Hey, I see you all the time and feel like I should know your name” can do wonders for creating a more connected community.

Allow for friendships that feel good (rather than look good): We all have unique reasons for choosing particular friends or seeking out particular social groups. However, if your social choices are purely based on who is most connected, most cool or most useful to you, you may struggle in times of vulnerability.

Allow yourself to (also) build and foster authentic friendships — people who may not offer you all you desire on a material level, but that lift you, inspire you and leave you feeling good about yourself.

Prioritise social connection in your schedule: It doesn’t matter how busy we get, we always benefit from finding time for the things that we value most. Studies around the world show that most individuals spend a woeful amount of time, each week, socialising with friends.

So, set aside time each day, week, month (depending on your personal circumstances) to catch up with authentic friends. Sharing meals is a powerful way to connect so if your days are super demanding, share some of your breakfasts, lunches or dinners with your most valued friends and family.

Aim to be a safe space for others: We’re all human and, therefore, we all have the capacity to judge, criticise, gossip and demean. However, in order to foster greater social connection, it’s imperative we try to rise above unhelpful and unhealthy behaviours and habits.

Become aware of how you react to others in need. Aim to be less judgmental, more understanding; less critical, more helpful; less aloof, more engaged. Healthy social connectedness is a team sport and creating an environment where we all thrive, starts with you.

Practice vulnerability and help-seeking: In the developed world, in particular, we have come to view vulnerability and help-seeking as a weakness. We have come to regard self-sufficiency as the single greatest factor of success, and we have forgotten that the human experience is often defined, not by how hard someone persevered and toiled, but by their personal luck or providence.

Needing help is not a weakness; it is an inevitable by-product of a fickle human existence. Learn to open up when you are in those inevitable and understandable moments of need. Reach out to those you trust most and allow those who wish to help, an opportunity to do so.

Philosophers have long contemplated why we chose, as a species, to live in communities. Why form social groups when we can easily sustain ourselves alone? The answer, some maintain, is simply because we cannot imagine living without social connection; we cannot flourish as individuals without supporting each other through life’s troubles.

Our modern lives may have removed many of us from that lynchpin of human connection — the village — but recent events have given us an opportunity to reinvigorate our relationship with ‘the tribe’ around us.

As we move forward from an intense period of isolation, physical distancing and social disconnection, it is up to us to answer the call for greater connection; to open up, reach out, connect authentically … and thrive in each other’s spaces.

About The Author

Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, holistic well-being educator, and consultant. She blends science with spiritual philosophy to inspire fullness of living, and has been a member of the British Club since 2015. www.kimforrester.net Looking for some drops of goodness in these uncertain times? Check out the Eudaemonia podcast on your favourite podcast app for inspiring conversations about the traits and practices that can help you flourish in life.

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Rated
7.5
Richard
ELITE
1267 comments
9 July 2020
If you have learned nothing else over the past few months of home isolation and social distancing, it is almost inevitable that you have come to value your social connections and most supportive friendships.
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Rated
8
Kim
CONTRIBUTOR
6 comments
2 July 2020
Several times each week, normally around sunset, we are visited at our home by our mischievous primate cousins - the macaques of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. This week, one particularly cheeky girl sat on the wall above our pond and gleefully started eating the orchids I had recently planted. My husband’s reaction was swift, and understandable. “Grab the hose! Get her away from there!” However, my automatic reaction was more benign and more resigned. I was happy to welcome this beautiful creature to my garden and – as far as I was concerned – if I was going to plant delicious orchids in the natural roaming space of the macaques, I had to be prepared for them to become someone’s evening snack. read more of my story here: https://www.expatchoice.asia/services/how-create-wellbeing-home
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