Studies have proven that human connection can exponentially increase happiness and contentment. In these fast times, technology can act as a double-edged sword; one one hand, someone is always a scroll or a click away, on the other - our screens can easily act as a barrier to interaction with the other human beings we are sharing space with.
When I was studying Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, one of our weekly assignments was to strike up a conversation with someone we normally wouldn't - someone sitting close to us on the train or the bus, a clerk, server or cashier etc. I decided to practice this one day while waiting for my oil to be changed and ended up having a lovely conversation with an older woman who was also waiting for her car to be serviced. I learned so much about her life and experiences, her grandchildren, the ways she had seen the world change in her lifetime - it was a truly beautiful moment of connection and shared perspectives.
The memory of this experience stuck with me - (I suspect this is what our professor hypothesized would happen,) and I try to practice it daily in my interactions at banks, restaurants, grocery stores and shops. One cashier shared with me that so many people are on their phone now at check-out that it's rare for people to acknowledge him or even make eye contact.
I understand that talking to someone you normally wouldn't can be way outside of your comfort zone, and can even possibly be dangerous depending on circumstances. Listen to your intuition and allow yourself to be guided to practice this exercise in a way that makes smart, safe sense for you. If this is just not in the cards for you at this time, there are plenty of ways to take part in this practice while still feeling secure and protected.
This week, as you mindfully practice the art of connection, take a mental inventory of how this practice influences your own feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
What are your favorite ways of connecting with others in your life? Have you ever practiced active listening? What was your experience?
Do you have the capacity to receive AND hold on to what you think you want?
Let’s try it – how does it feel in your body to imagine inviting a loving, healthy relationship into your life?
Where do you feel this in your body? What sensations do you feel when you imagine this? How does it feel – expansive or constricting? Do you feel a sense of lightness at the prospect of sharing your life with a supportive partner, or does the thought of this agitate you because your nervous system is used to chaotic relationships? Did you have to self-soothe as a child so now the thought of living with someone else makes you anxious because you are truly most comfortable alone?
Tomorrow marks the Fall Equinox and signifies one of two days out of the year (the other being the Spring or 'Vernal' Equinox) when day and night are almost exactly equal lengths and the entire planet is most in balance.
Taking our queue from Nature's rhythms, this week is the optimal time to examine balance in our lives.