There are so many important aspects to our July theme. There is connection to one another, connection to Mother Earth, connection to our own souls and intuition, connections within our brain (that improve with mindful meditation!)... It is a basic human need to feel connected to each other. Throughout the month of July we will dig a little deeper and explore these different areas and ways we can have a little mindful contemplation on them. First, let's look at the neuroscience of connecting. Just why is it so important? In 2013 Scientist Matthew Lieberman wrote a book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. He writes, “My gut says making more money will make me happier, but my gut is wrong … The more individuals endorse materialism as a positive life value, the less happy they are with are with their lives.” It's an unfortunate phenomenon within our Western culture where more and more we plug-in to "connect" and in doing so we are really disconnecting from all that is truly important. An article on Lieberman's book in the Atlantic very accurately writes:
Lieberman explains, to Scientific America,"Social connections are as important to our survival and flourishing as the need for food, safety, and shelter. But over the last fifty years, while society has been growing more and more prosperous and individualistic, our social connections have been dissolving. We volunteer less. We entertain guests at our homes less. We are getting married less. We are having fewer children. And we have fewer and fewer close friends with whom we’d share the intimate details of our lives. We are increasingly denying our social nature, and paying a price for it. Over the same period of time that social isolation has increased, our levels of happiness have gone down, while rates of suicide and depression have multiplied."
"Different cultures have different beliefs about how important social connection and interdependence are to our lives. In the West, we like to think of ourselves as relatively immune to sway of those around us while we each pursue our personal destiny. But I think this is a story we like to tell ourselves rather than what really happens. Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems. We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts."Perhaps this month can be the beginning of bringing awareness to our efforts to truly connect with those around us.
Here's a fun way to explore connections in a completely different mode. We may be late to the game as we just discovered this Japanese concept of Ikigai and it's so fantastic we wanted to share with anyone else who may not know. According to the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai, a reason for being, and this is a fun and insightful way to discover what yours is. Using the image below, you dig deep within yourself to answer the questions, then follow the connections to find your purpose. Perhaps you can connect with a friend and do this together!
Thank you for connecting with me today. With love and gratitude,
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