Connection is important for human survival. Human beings have needed to cooperate in order to survive as a species. And in order to cooperate, we needed to connect with each other. Over time, a deep-seated need for connection has evolved in us. Our very survival depends on it. According to Psychology Today, “At the root of all of our desires is a need to be loved and to belong. A sense of social connection is one of our fundamental human needs and it impacts our mental health, physical health, and longevity.” (Seppala, 2020)
The more connected we are to others, the more likely we are to have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Studies also show that people who are more socially connected also have higher self-esteem and are more empathetic to others. They are also more trusting and cooperative and, therefore more open to trusting and cooperating. On the flip side, people who are less connected suffer more from loneliness, mental health issues and addiction.
My company, Creative Connection, was founded for the very purpose of combating loneliness. Back in 2016, after returning from an extended trip to Europe, I was reflecting on the state of the world, and how I wanted to spend my time. My business partner and I agreed that one of the most valuable things we could do would be to help people connect – to themselves and to each other.
Our vehicle is creative arts and mindfulness. We facilitate group activities for organizations using everything from painting, to yoga, to drumming. What we see is people stand up afterward feeling so fulfilled and happy, because they are doing something so unusual for them – connecting to themselves by doing something creative, and yet also fulfilled because they did the activity in a group, which gave them the opportunity to connect to their coworkers or peer group.
My work with women over 40 is all about connection, as well. I support women from around the world in coming together to connect with each other in a safe space, where they can be themselves. In this cyber-space we are creating a community of women with shared values: fearlessness, freedom, and positivity. This kind of connection is so healing emotionally and psychologically. Connecting to one’s community provides a sense of acceptance that undergirds feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. I’ve seen such profound changes in people based on connection, that it’s almost astonishing. And it’s beautiful.
Kindness is Connection in Action
The word kindness derives from two words: the Old English word “ge-cynde” which means nature, natural, or type; and the Proto-Germanic word “kunja-“ which means family, similar to kin. (Kind, 2020) So, really an act of kindness is like recognizing that at our core we are the same, the same type. We are family. I treat you with kindness because we are kin on some level. Every time we hold the door for someone, compliment a stranger, help someone put groceries in their car, give up your seat on the bus, or talk to a shy person at a party, you are being kind.
There are many synonyms for kindness like “affection, benevolence, cordiality, courtesy, decency, forbearance, gentleness, solicitude, sweetness, tolerance, consideration.” These are all ways that one would treat family. But, with kindness there is the awareness that the person is not actually family. So, there is no sense of obligation. When you are being kind, you are going above and beyond what is required by family ties. We are treating people like we are connected to them like family without being obliged to do so.
In this way, we are strengthening human connections. Each and every act of kindness strengthens connection within the human race. And we are strengthening our species ability to survive. We are stronger as a species because of your kindness. So, on behalf of the human race, thank you!
Cacioppo, J. T. (2020, June 8). It’s Time for a Science of Social Connection. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/connections/201007/its-time-science-social-connection
Kind. (2020, June 8). Retrieved from EtymologyOnline: https://www.etymonline.com/word/kind?ref=etymonline_crossreference#etymonline_v_1863
Seppala, E. (2020, March 23). Social Connection Boosts Health, Even When You’re Isolated. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/202003/social-connection-boosts-health-even-when-youre-isolated