BE the change you want to see in the world. A good human lifestyle.

Connection is the key to happiness

Connection is the key to happiness

Since the start of the pandemic, I have been slowly developing new habits that bring me moments of joy during the day – nothing substantial, simple things like; practicing yoga and trying out the more challenging poses, reading books that I’ve put off for years, painting (by numbers and freehand), going for regular walks with my husband, writing my blog and my favourite of all … learning something new everyday. Written down, these seem like very easy and manageable things but in the midst of a pandemic when you feel all over the place – on some days it was really hard to even get out of bed, let alone work on new habits. I’m grateful however, that I chose to embark on this period of self learning because over the past fifteen months, I’ve developed a deeper awareness about myself as well as ways to cope with uncertain situations.

One of the things that I have been doing as part of my ‘learning something new everyday’ is watching TED Talks. I’ve always been an avid fan of TED and their concept of ideas that are worth spreading. The short talks offer the ability to learn something new and then allow you to investigate more, if the topic peaks your interest. It’s not intrusive or difficult to do and it’s an easy habit to bring into your day to day routine. I find that I listen to Ted Talks while I’m drinking my morning cup of coffee, it’s a gentle way to wake me up in the morning and stimulate my thinking.

One of the talks that I found particularly interesting, is the one below: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.

The whole idea behind Artiscado, is living a life that ensures that you feel content, fulfilled and one that helps you to do the best by you and others. Overall, it’s a simple concept – yet we’re so bogged down with our busy lives that we often forget to look at the most important and the most meaningful things in our lives. We then get to our old age and wonder where our lives have gone. We’ve blinked and another year has passed, blurred with forgotten moments. I don’t want that for my life – I want to fully experience and live each moment and live in a mindful way that enables me to appreciate my finite time on this planet. I want to create valuable and meaningful change and I want my life to have meant something to the people that matter to me. Last week, I wrote about living authentic lives – I think today’s post just builds on that.

This talk by Robert Waldinger struck a chord deep within. We all (I generalise a little here) in our youthful years believe that stuff, wealth and status are what we need to live a fulfilled and happy life, however in real terms when you look at the data and the lived experiences over a lifetime – that is not the case at all.

The key component to a happy life is ‘connection’ through valuable and meaningful relationships with the significant people in our lives. It’s really that simple.

During the course of the pandemic, the thing that I have missed the most is my friends and family. My outfit of the day consists of joggers and oversized shirts, my hair now lives in a permanent bun and I’m rarely seen with any form of make up on. It’s not bothered me. What’s bothered me is not being able to hug my grandparents or belly laugh with my friends in the garden while putting the world to rights or helping my mum cook unusual meals for all the family.. what’s bothered me is not being able to create memories with the ones I love. Video calls only seem to get you so far, text messages while great as a quick burst of connection are no substitute for a hug and group quizzes are no substitute for gossiping late in the night with my nearest and dearest.

How then can we create togetherness and better relationships in a world that is so connected yet so lacking in meaningful connection…

  1. Limit your screen time when you’re with friends and family. There is nothing worse than being sat in a group and everyone is sat staring at their phones. Am I boring you? Would you rather be somewhere else? Would you rather be talking to someone else? These are the thoughts that come to mind when we’re all too busy with our noses glued to our phones rather than being in the moment together.
  2. Actively listen to the people you’re with. Sometimes it’s okay to just sit and listen… It’s nice to hear what others have to say and take on board their thoughts, feelings and opinions.
  3. Plan activities together and create memories. Sometimes sitting on the sofa and watching a film with your partner, parent, friend or sibling is just what the doctor ordered but sometimes, it’s great to plan an activity where you can all do something different together. Whether that’s just going for a walk, to a local beach or even being a maverick and encouraging them to try something they’ve never done before – all of those things build connected moments.
  4. Accept each other’s differences and be grateful for it. Living in a world where we are all the same would be quite boring. Knowing that we all bring something diverse to the table and knowing that we all have a different view point or different way of thinking is so valuable. It makes us more appreciative of the people around us and makes us more open to listening too.
  5. Stop comparing your life to the lives of others. In fact, maybe limit your social media time and be in the moment with your loved ones. Social media represents a curated version of people’s lives. It’s a snapshot in time and it’s not a full view of what they think and feel. Your life is your life and it’s great because it’s yours. If you don’t like it then actively do something positive to facilitate change – comparing the shortcomings that you feel your life has based on a filtered square you’ve seen on Instagram… allows you to sell yourself short. Don’t compare what you have to others – embrace it, love it and appreciate it.

If there’s one new thing you learn today…let it be this: ‘good lives are made with good relationships‘. Thanks Robert Waldinger, while it may be an obvious lesson, it’s one we’ve all often taken for granted until perhaps it’s too late.

Make that phonecall to your friend or relative that you’ve not spoken to in a while. Let go of the family-fued, bitterness never served anyone and get off your phone and into the moment. Your future self will thank you for it.