I was reflecting on the lovely connection I have with my Pilates teacher, Liz, after my lesson this morning, and thinking about how much it enhances what I gain from those lessons. The extra value of being treated as a unique individual is that it feeds a fundamental requirement we have as humans.
Our brains are wired to be connected to others – it’s part of our survival mechanisms. We learned early on in our evolution that we would survive much more easily if we joined with others and shared the difficulties and the good times, and that produced a strong drive to be connected. It is well proven that if a child is deprived of connection, they do not grow physically as well, and they do not develop their emotional ad intellectual intelligence in the same way. Connection is vital to us.
So what is connection? The word connect actually means to bind with, be tied to. It is a strong link with someone else, not just a passing, temporary link that is released as soon as it’s made. It’s the difference between a limp handshake, and a firm handshake with positive eye contact: we connect emotionally as well as physically.
‘Networking’ doesn’t do it – although it should as it comes from the same root meaning! – and nor does friends on Facebook. We need more than that: the personal touch. It’s recognition of us as a person, our individuality, our humanity. It’s proper human contact, noticing how someone is, delighting in their good times, sympathising with their not so good times, accepting them however they are, rather than only wanting to know their ‘shiny bits.
We gain a lot from connecting with others. It makes us feel good, it feeds our minds, bodies and spirits, so build these connections whenever you can. Talk for a moment with the checkout operator, the person in the queue with you. Greet a new acquaintance as if they could be a good friend. Hug your family and friends, and tell them you love them whatever mood they’re in.
Connect and enrich your life, and that of those around you – feed our humanity.