The power of being connected to others  

All my life I have been quite content in my own company.  At school I would rather spend my lunch hour in a corner of the library instead of chatting to others in the playground. As an adult I find I crave solitude and peace, seeking time out whenever I can. I have at times struggled to fit in with group in society, feeling quirky, different and misunderstood.

I know from an evolutionary perspective that the human race has survived as a result of relying on others to form groups or communities. We are wired to connect. How we attach to a care giver as an infant affects the trajectory of our social life.

Brene Brown said “Connection gives us meaning and purpose in life.” Diner and Seligman found very happy people had rich and satisfying relationships and spent little time alone, relative to people with average levels of happiness.

On reflection when I write my list of three good things that I am grateful for at the end of each day, it is often connections I have made, time spent with others or moments I have had with complete strangers that left a lasting imprint on me.

Being around other people can be so rewarding and have a real impact on our health and well being. Brain scans show that people who are lonely, isolated or excluded, the same regions of their brain light up as when in pain.

Today the power of being with like minded individuals was so wonderfully moving. A group of us spent two hours doing a mindful walk around Lily Hill Park. A walk I have done numerous times before solo. However, being with others heightened the experience, making it richer, more poignant. I am quite sure that our levels of oxytocin – often called the love hormone – increased. Oxytocin is the neuropeptide that floods parents after giving birth to secure a bond.  Oxytocin plays a role in all sorts of happy occasions, making people more trusting, generous and gregarious.

So the next time that you get an opportunity to connect with somebody, whether it is pausing for a chat at the checkout, phoning a friend rather than texting, popping into see a relative or going out with a group, don’t dilly dally … it will make you happier,  and healthier!

Nicola Strudley