While at my Global Grubbing dinner last week, I made a comment that implied I didn’t believe Americans were as kind-hearted and giving as some of our international counterparts. After my comment, one of the participants called me out on it, to say that I’m just not getting out there enough then, because there are plenty of good people here in America!
First, let me start by telling you my general belief is that the world is good and full of good-hearted people. I don’t believe at all that we need to live with a general sense of fear and uneasiness about our safety.
I believe the world to be both good and safe.
With that said, I still believe we can all find more ways to connect to one another and make an effort to see the good in others by being actively involved in the world around us.
Here are five ways where you can find more connection in your community:
Formulate New Friendships
- Formulate New Friendships. This may seem like the easiest way to feel more connected, but finding and keeping new friends can be a challenge to many. People often fall into a rut or a routine of where they find their friendships (the workplace, through other friends, and hobbies). It’s not always easy to branch out from these social circles and into something that will make your feel more connected to others, but you’ll ultimately feel more connected when you diversify the friends and people in your life so that you aren’t surrounded by a homogenous group that looks like and resembles who you are as a person. When you expand your friendships, your worldview will increase, and therefore increase your sense of social connectedness by expanding outside of your norm. Intentionally begin to seek out and start conversations with people as you meet them. Cultivate that relationship by extending offers to meet or get together again. Repeat this step until a bond and trust is established and a friendship is formed.
Adapt the lens in which you see the world.
- Adapt the lens in which you see the world. When we see the world through a sense of me vs. them or us vs. them we adopt a mindset that separates us from one another. We all have opinions, and we are all uniquely different. Even within our own families and neighborhoods, each person contributes a unique set of values and opinions. This is what makes the world interesting. From here, we have a choice, we can either choose to see that people are different from us, noticing our opposite opinions, or we can accept that everyone has the right to be who they are and we don’t need to let that drive a stake between us. For example, if you are devoted to your religious beliefs and you see a woman with a hijab or a burka, why not honor that she too is also devoted to her beliefs as well. There are many ways in which we can choose to look at others, but if we come with a general sense of curiosity and openness, you’ll find that we have more in common than we have in differences.
Make a kind gesture towards someone else
- Make a kind gesture towards someone else. We’ve all heard that when you do something for another person, it can ultimately be more rewarding for the giver than the receiver. Yet, so many people don’t make time to volunteer or do something kind for another person. Even small acts of kindness, like helping an elderly woman at the grocery store reach a can of tomatoes off the top shelf, can create a magical feeling within the doer of deeds. When we stop and get more present to the people around us, we are able to notice what a person might need. It’s rare to have someone ask for help, but if you look around, you’ll see many people who could use a hand. Whether that’s dropping off a meal to a friend who just lost a relative, taking an older child out for a few hours to give a mother a break with a new baby, or asking a friend to go for a walk during a tough time. These little gestures help us all feel more connected, and when we do more things in service towards others, our overall sense of connectedness increases.
Attend local events.
- Attend local events. No matter where you live, whether in a rural part of the country or a densely populated city, there are all types of events happening within our communities that we can attend. Look for events that pique your area of interest, whether film screenings, international events, or local community festivals. If you want to stretch your comfort zone, attend an event that’s being hosted by a religious affiliation or organization that you don’t know much about. For example, I attended a Jewish Family Shabbat at a local temple with my son and husband in March. While I know a little about the Jewish religion, I was unfamiliar with the traditions and rituals of Shabbat. It was a fun event for us and a great chance to see a different side of our local community. Plus, it was great exposure for our son to watch the traditions and hear the music and prayers of a different religion. When you attend events such as the Shabbat, or perhaps Understanding Islam in a Modern Society or a film screening and Q&A like this one hosted by Seeds of Exchange, you’ll find amazing people all gathering together for one common reason, which enhances are sense of the world around us.
Move back to face-to-face time.
- Move back to face-to-face time. While I completely value how connected social media and the internet has allowed us to be, I also see technology has taken away an instrumental part of our well-being in our lives—that sacred face-to-face connection. I love following the Hands Free Mama, who shares and talks about her life of less screen time and more present time with her family. It’s such a valuable reminder for all of us. I totally get sucked into my screen time, checking Facebook, reading articles, and getting lost in a sea of internet data; however, nothing replaces that face-to-face time. Plus, I’ve never gotten off the phone or the internet and thought, “Wow, that really filled me up!” In fact, it more often does the opposite for me, sending me into a spiral of believing that I am not having as much fun, my life isn’t as joyful as I’d like it to be, or that I’m obviously lacking in something that I didn’t know I needed 30 minutes ago. Making time for those in-person gatherings is what truly feeds my spirit, yet with our busy lives it’s not always easy to carve out a few hours to step away from our other obligations. But if you are being pervaded by the feeling of disconnection and isolation, the fastest and best way to get out of that is to get off our phones and computers, and sit side-by-side or across the table from someone else—even a conversation with a total stranger can make us feel more connected.
What other ways do you create connection in your life? I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment about what you do to feel connected below.