A loner's guide on building meaningful social connections!
Updated: Jun 4
Over the last few decades, the quality of human connections has been deteriorating consistently, with so many of us failing miserably at creating meaningful relationships with one another. Such connections are usually smothered by the feelings of competition and jealousy, which entail from a deep-seated sense of separation from one another. We rarely think of each other as one species, unlike so many other creatures on the planet, who always look out for one another, at least within the realm of their own kind. The growing focus on materialism and being ‘successful’ has robbed people of experiencing the immense beauty of personal relationships and social connectedness. A study has shown that lack of social connection is a bigger threat to one’s health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
Further, a research study by Steve Cole reveals that the genes impacted by our social relationships are also connected with the immune function of the body. This means that healthy social relationships can help us heal faster, and may even elongate our life span. Additionally, people who feel more connected to others have been reported to have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Studies also reveal that such individuals have higher self-esteem and sense of empathy, and are more trusting and cooperative in nature. Therefore, social connectedness is powerful factor in driving a positive feedback loop of physical, mental and emotional well-being.
With more number of people staying in their ‘personal spaces’ for prolonged periods and acting like islands unto themselves, social connections have never been more crucial in our lives. We are a part of an infinite and ever-expanding universe, which means that inclusiveness is a very important characteristic of our existence here.
Now that we know why meaningful social relationships are crucial for you to live a happy and healthy life, the next step is to learn how. To do this, here is a list of some easy and useful tips for you to put into practice right away:
1) Be an initiator
Make a conscious choice to reach out to others every day, whether through a face-to-face interaction or a phone call. Many of us find isolation very comforting these days, therefore, one might have to muster some will to, let’s say, initiate a conversation or go to a party. Although you don’t have to feel the burden of becoming a social butterfly in one day, taking baby steps towards socialization is important, in the initial few days.
2) Work on making your existing connections stronger
Everyone has some valuable relationships in their lives, even though we might not connect with them on a daily basis. If interacting with new people is overwhelming for you, start with improving and strengthening your existing connections. This will remind you how fun and fulfilling it is to share your life with others, so that you can go on and build amazing new relationships in your life.
3) Ditch the *busy* mindset
Being ‘busy’ happens to be the most common excuse of avoiding people, especially for an in-person meeting. If you actually find it difficult to carve out time for socializing, try to move your schedule around, so you are able to fit in your social events. Honestly, everything important for your well-being needs a place in your calendar.
4) Do not afraid to be vulnerable
The most honest connections are the most fulfilling ones. One of the most effective tools one can use to connect, is to share personal stories with other people. We are biologically wired to feel inspired to learn from the stories shared by others, so an authentic account of a particular event in your life is likely to captivate people, and in turn, make them more comfortable to be open and amicable around you.
5) Be less judgmental and more accepting
Many of us have this habit of instantly judging others based on their tiny quirks and attributes. One must remember that nobody, including themselves, is perfect. People who constantly judge everyone are the most lonely, unhappy and miserable folks. Learn to accept people for who they are, instead of trying to fit them in your own set of standards. Everyone has some interesting qualities about them. And maybe if you give them a chance, they might surprise you and eventually, become one of your closest acquaintances!