Our need for connectedness, like our appetite or our sex drive, is a necessity. Not a luxury we can choose to ignore. Unfortunately, for many people, it simply does not rank high enough on the priority list these days. That’s a shame as increased connectedness has multiple proven physical and psychological benefits, as well as being one of the easiest things to add to your daily routine. A recent study showed that over 25% of Americans reported having no one close enough to them to confide in. That is one of the saddest statistics I've ever come across as loneliness in many cases is completely avoidable.
Our innate curiosity in others and our deep rooted desire to belong to something and connect should not be suppressed. People will surprise you and amazing things will happen if you invite more people into your life.
HERE ARE 5 SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN START DOING TODAY THAT WILL INCREASE HUMAN CONTACT IN YOUR LIFE:
1. Social Media
Not sure whether our obsession with social media platforms adds or detracts from the overall amount of actual human interaction in our lives. But it definitely presents an opportunity. Reach out to an old friend or co-worker and make plans to actually meet up in the real world. Ideally someone out of your usual social circles and someone you have not seen in ages. Try this as often as you have time for. You have to put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zones.
2. Family or family friends
You know, people you have known since you lived in your childhood home. Reaching out to estranged relatives or close family friends have lead to some of the most rewarding interactions I’ve had in recent years. Not sure if it’s the old childhood memories it often stirs up or just the general familiarity. Whatever it is, it’s always nice to get caught up and re-connect with relatives and old family friends.
3. Sports Team / Club
Getting together with a group of your peers and competing in or practicing a sport or undertaking an interest is one of the most obvious and most entertaining ways to get out and interact. People are often hesitant or shy, just get out there, meet some people and have some fun. Pick something you have never done before, you may be surprised how stimulating it is learning new things as you get older. Regardless of your current age.
Literally, there is a group set up for everything imaginable. I have had positive experiences meeting up with people from a djembe drumming group and an ayahuasca meetup group. If you cannot find a group for your particular area of interest, start one up. Not much else can be said about this. Do it.
5. Talk to a stranger
That sounds almost as outrageous as suggesting you run into a crowded store naked. Actually, converse with a stranger? Crazy. I’m not suggesting making a habit of approaching complete strangers on the street, yet. We all have opportunities daily where we could interact with people around us, but don’t. Whether in places we frequent regularly, from coffee shops to dog parks. Or people you come across in your neighborhood. Something I've started doing is offering compliments to people, only genuine ones. If I noticed an item of clothing or fashion I liked, for example, I will compliment the person on it. People enjoy receiving compliments and it always feels good to engage in a brief but pleasant exchange with a stranger. And I always walk away smiling.
None of these are difficult or require any additional resources. Nothing discussed above is revolutionary or groundbreaking. They are all simple and obvious steps we can all undertake. However, many of us will not. I challenge you to try it a few times and observe how you feel. I will over the next few days.
One thing I can say with complete certainty is if you isolate yourself and don’t seek out new opportunities to connect, you will miss out on innumerable opportunities. It’s the old adage if you don’t play, you can’t win. As I like to say, grow up and put yourself out there. It’s free and no one has ever lost an eye trying to expand their social circle, or have they?
Especially for those in recovery from substance abuse, the benefits are too many to mention. There is the obvious support end of things as well as aiding with accountability as well as helping avoid boredom. Idle time is an addict's worst enemy. I think we can all agree on that. So fill up your dance card and surround yourself with as many people and positive activities as your schedule will permit. It may not always be the time of your life but it beats being bored.