Kind promise: I will build, nurture and celebrate connection.

Painting snipI’ve been sick for the last week, hunkered around the Kleenex box and watching numbing amounts of television. In this month where I intended to be nurturing connection, I have, instead, been exploring isolation.

When we are alone, troubles loom large; blessings are muted. It’s easy to believe any monster voices that whisper that suffering is deserved. It’s hard to generate energy for anything beyond existing.

Happily, my virus-induced fog is lifting and I’m able to pay attention, again, to connectedness and why it is part of a sacred, compassionate, creative life.

In psychological research circles, the phrase “social connectedness” involves the quality and number of connections you have with other people. I spent yesterday reading about social connectedness. Emma Seppala is a lovely source of verbal and graphic information.

Those who have high social connection scores, she reports, get sick less often, have higher self-esteem and empathy, better emotional regulation skills, lower rates of anxiety and depression and they live longer. It’s one of those common-sense-borne-out-by-research situations: being surrounded by love leads to a healthier, happier, longer life.

Unfortunately, loneliness, isolation and alienation are on the rise US. In 2004, 25% of Americans claimed they have no one with whom to share a personal problem.

Happily, it’s our subjective sense of connection, not our actual number of friends, that is important to our physical and mental health. Good news for introverts like me! An internal sense of connection something that can be nurtured.

Social connection explains why this kind promise is so important. In the next couple weeks, I look forward to thinking about ways in which we can strengthen and celebrate our internal senses of connection.