Dear Beautiful Souls,
Do you ever feel as if you’ve lost touch with people with whom you were once close? Are your children drifting beyond your influence, forming their views of the world to align with their friends’? Have family relationships suffered over differences of opinion? Have divergent values created political disagreements, driving a wedge into your community?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle at times with isolation, loneliness, or separation. Such feelings are very common to the human experience! The good news is that you don’t need to wait passively for something or someone to come along and change things for the better. You can take charge.
Each of these problems might seem separate or personal, yet in truth they are all symptoms of the same larger problem: disconnection from people who matter to us. Social relationships are fundamental to our well-being on every level: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. They are as essential as nourishing food. We are meant to connect joyfully with others. It’s in our nature to give and receive love, to share ourselves with others.
While this is fundamental to our individual well-being, it matters in a broader sense, too. Exchanging love with others is how we build bonds of family and community. It’s how we express our purpose and bring our best selves to the world. Our entire community becomes more resilient when we exchange love and look out for one another.
Much of life’s most important work – raising children, shaping our society in an ethical direction – is simply too difficult to do alone. We need each other. This is true at any time, and especially in the face of difficulty. In fact, many of the troubles confronting us today are the consequences of earlier division and alienation.
At times of increased disconnection between parents and children and among community members, it’s essential that we actively foster our connections with others. There's tremendous value added to our life when we strengthen our relationships with the people we love – our children, our family members, our friends – and anyone else with whom our lives are intertwined – our neighbors and the members of our broader community.
We each know this truth intuitively. So what prevents us from living it? It’s all too easy to get drawn into our own internal world of physical, mental, and emotional concerns. We feel unhappy or uncomfortable, and we become preoccupied searching for a solution to the problem. We retreat rather than reaching out to others. Sometimes, what’s holding us back is insecurity or a desire for approval and permission from others. Other times, what stands in the way is a near-obsessive focus on getting things done – meeting the daily responsibilities of life. Any of these things can pull our focus inward, away from our relationships with others.
No matter what the obstacle, we have the power to move beyond it. We can take steps toward the life we want – for ourselves, for children, for our community. We can overcome the tendency to isolate ourselves and turn outward instead. We can set aside our “doing” for the moment and make time to simply be with others. We can listen, offer support, and seek to understand.
Connections with others don’t have to be serious and time-consuming in order to be meaningful; they can be simple and even playful, taking place in ordinary moments. When we look each other in the eye and acknowledge each other’s humanity, we restore peace to our families, to our communities, and to the world.
Social connection is the antidote to isolation, alienation, and divisiveness. So I invite you to reach out compassionately to those around you. Set an intention to exchange love with your family members, your friends, your neighbors. It’s up to you to propel yourself forward, to be a caretaker and guardian of your own community. You have one precious life. You deserve to live it in care, community, and love!
Action item: What is one simple action you can take to connect lovingly with a family member, friend, or community member? Try it today. What happens? How do you feel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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