There’s a painful paradox in the modern world: superficially, we seem to be more connected than ever, and yet, in some of the most important ways, the exact opposite is true. In fact, we are increasingly lonely, separated from nature, and struggling to connect with ourselves.
Here’s the thing: we know we need more healthy connection in our lives. Our bonds with those we care about, the natural environment and our own sense of self must be reclaimed for good mental and physical health. Brain Wash describes a variety of ways to start bringing these types of connection back into our lives. In addition to those techniques, here are 4 powerful methods for reclaiming meaningful connection in your life.
Make The Time You Spend Connecting Count
In the modern day, we spend far too little time building our meaningful connections. But, what’s worse, the precious time we dedicate to improving these links has been significantly degraded. The human brain is notoriously bad at multitasking, so if we want to do something well, we have to allow ourselves an opportunity for a single object of focus.
And yet, while we attempt to connect, we’re continuously distracted, pulled out of conversations, our moments of introspection or bonding with nature jolted by notifications on our phones, the background chatter on the TV, or an impulsive need to check our email.
Time spent reconnecting is simply too valuable and too scarce to allow this to happen. To this end, start making a point to remove all potential distractions when you’re trying to connect, and you’ll soon see substantial rewards.
Most of us have busy schedules. In addition to expected events, there are innumerable last minute additions to our calendars. When we do have a few moments between activities, it’s all too easy to fill them with mindless TV or web surfing. This is why it’s so important to build connection time into our schedules in advance.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is sage advice, especially as it pertains to building our bonds with other people, strengthening our connection with ourselves, and improving our relationships with nature. Unless we make provisions for these essential activities and explicitly outline the time and place where they will occur, we’re likely to allow something else to take their place.
Luckily, it’s easy to bypass this preventable problem. You can quickly set a date and time for a phone call with someone you care about, put a nature walk on your calendar, or block off a daily window for meditative introspection.
Go Deeper In Conversation
Our conversations with others can become some of our most cherished memories. But it’s clear that not all of these interactions are meaningful. Much of the time, we speak about the mundane and superficial, since these are easy and inoffensive topics. However, if we hope to create deep and lasting connection with those around us, we have to make an effort to engage in richer conversations.
Remember, we’re all trying to figure out the answers to the deeper questions in life. Despite this, we’re prone to avoid talking to others about them. Instead, we focus on the weather or the latest sports games and reality TV shows. This is not to say that those conversations are a waste of time, just that we should also make an active effort to discuss the more challenging issues.
As a starting point, next time you’re in a conversation with someone you care about, consider asking them about what they’ve been most interested in recently, or about something unexpected that they learned in the last week.
When we’re trying to create lasting positive change, taking the time to objectively reflect on our progress can be the hardest part. And yet, this may be the most important piece of the puzzle. It’s one thing to plan out more quality opportunities for connection, but we have to pause to ask ourselves: how well did we convert? Did we actually succeed in bringing more connection into our week?
When we build a designated pause for reflection into our schedule, we gain so much valuable data. We can ask questions like, “what went wrong?” and “what was most successful?” which help make further attempts at connection more effective and points out the many ways we can be foiled in our efforts, allowing us to better avoid them.
Consider adding in just one 10-minute window each week for reflection on the prior 7 days, and ask yourself questions like the following:
- How did I do connecting over the last week?
- How can increase my chances of reaching my goals for the next week?
With so many distractions around us, it’s vital that we become architects of our time. We need to consciously design our lives to foster connection, and these tips are a great place to start. However, we know you each have your own ways of increasing the connection in your lives, and we would love to hear from you! Let us know your favorite ways of fostering connection in the comments below!
Reconnect with Creativity
Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier to turn on the TV, the computer, or your smartphone and check out the latest media than it is to pursue most other activities. But if you find yourself with some extra time during the day, it’s worth considering how you can become more mindful with it, and specifically how you can flex your creativity muscles. A couple great options are art and music. Now this doesn’t mean you need to be a Rembrandt or Mozart! In fact, it may be better not to have a specific goal or standard in mind. Instead, look at activities that you enjoy and enable you to be flexible and experiment with new ideas. Here are some great places to get started:
Connect with Music
With music, piano and guitar are definitely great opportunities to practice creativity. However, they can be expensive, and it may take a bit of effort to learn the basics. One instrument that Austin has really enjoyed in the last year is the ukulele. This is a small and relatively inexpensive lute. It has a fantastic, relaxing sound, and is very easy to play and experiment with. Bongos are another fun way to de-stress and get creative (try playing along with your favorite songs). Lastly, don’t forget the recorder! This versatile and easy-to-learn instrument might have been a requirement when you were in school, but there’s no reason it can’t be a fun diversion as an adult.
Connect with Art
In art, it’s easy to compare yourself with others and lose confidence (check out Reisha Perlmutter’s paintings and you’ll see what we are talking about). The key here is about finding something that you can enjoy without an overwhelming concern for the outcome. Doodling is a fun way to get started. For a date night or video chat, try a game where you come up with 5-minute drawing challenges that can be as ridiculous as you want. Another calming way to practice creativity is with adult coloring books. It’s surprising how much fun this can be.
Now, this discussion on the importance of reconnecting to others may seem at odds with all the messaging that we are getting that would seem to indicate that we are better off staying distanced from people. To be sure, as we are confronted by the current pandemic situation this is important advice. But the point is that though we need to remain physically distanced from others, it is actually harmful for us to create situations that make us feel isolated and disconnected. These days it’s time to look at how we can reconnect to others virtually, by phone, video conferencing, or even by plain old letter writing. And by all means, there’s no reason we can’t socialize if we abide by appropriate distance recommendations.
All this said, we know you each have your own ways of increasing the connection in your lives, and we would love to hear from you! Let us know your favorite ways of fostering connection in the comments below!
Updated January 5, 2021. Originally published December 3, 2019.