It's all about connection and belonging
The following information sheds light on social aspects of your life which may help enhance your sense of belonging and community and strengthen your relationships.
As this TED talk by Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger so eloquently shows - the quality of connection we have through relationships has been found to be one of the most influential factors in happiness. Social connection is also linked to improved health whereas loneliness is correlated with mortality and other adverse outcomes. Furthermore, many studies have shown the importance of belonging as it relates to meaning in life. The late Irish poet, John O'Donohue wrote "One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen." To belong and connect is to be seen. Finding, cultivating and nurturing our relationships takes careful tending and emotional awareness. We must be able to overcome our own fear of vulnerability and shame in order to meaningfully connect as the important work of Brene Brown has shown. Relationships take work and can be messy but in the end they are what matter most.
Challenge 1: Pick one person today who has been important to you at any stage in your life and reach out to them and tell them thank you.
Challenge 2: Reach out to a partner, family member or close friend that you feel safe talking with and ask if they would like to have a recurring date over coffee or tea or maybe a walk and to use this time intentionally. Perhaps you might have the mutual aim of helping each other work towards a specific goal or to overcome certain fears or support each other through a loss.
Often times it is helpful to connect with individuals who share some of the same struggles. Different regions offer different support groups but the below links are examples of such groups that are in most areas:
Al-Anon: Help and Hope for Family and Friends of Alcoholics
Divorce Care: Find Help and Healing for the Hurt of Separation or Divorce
Support Group Library - Alphabetical listing of additional national support groups for mental health, there are a lot of groups located if you scroll down on the page.
Watch and Listen
Helpful TED talks and Podcasts to strengthen social aspects of your life
The Power of Vulnerability - Brene Brown (TED)
Helpful books and articles to help strengthen social aspects of your life
Authentic Relationships: The Lost Art of "One Anothering" - Wayne Jacobsen
Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person - Alain de Botton (NY Times Article)
Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong - John O'Donohue
The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging - Charles Vogl