How can we create a cultural legacy of happiness?
Let other people matter.
Ever wondered why the ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ rhyme was so catchy but actually didn’t feel right. Even though you felt good saying it to someone at the time you still felt awful after.
Well it’s because physical and emotional pain are treated the same way by our brains. Rejection hurts. Plain and simple. Therefore, name calling hurts as the bully is essentially rejecting us.
‘Our sensitivity to social rejection is so central to our well-being
that our brains treat it like a painful event, whether the instance
of social rejection matters or not.’ (Matthew D Lieberman, Social, 2013).
We humans are made to connect with each other. Connection with others, good strong relationships, are part of our basic human needs. This makes sense if you think about the fact that we are born needing our parents or a carer in order for us to survive, we can’t get food by ourselves when we are born.
So, if we are made to connect why is there a loneliness epidemic? This is difficult to answer as feeling lonely is subjective. Studies have pointed towards technology; it is easier than ever to communicate and yet we do not seem satisfied with these communications. Other studies have pointed to social media use, the higher the usage the more feelings of loneliness, however as with most studies it is not always clear cut and we do not know if it is more about how you use social media than the length of time using it. Even though people have lots of relationships they can still feel lonely and this could point to quality, the meaning we have in our relationships can make a lot of difference to how we view them. So, what is the answer to this and how can we have more meaningful and quality connections and reduce our feelings of loneliness?
As always, as a practitioner I like to look at what we can do to help move us towards better relationships and social connection with practical things to try and add to your daily life. In the awesomeness of this month of social connection I have teamed up with instantprint (www.instantprint.co.uk) on this blog post. Just because we are all online we can still create meaningful and worthwhile connections with our virtual friends. Now instantprint are a friendly online printer. They are also accessible and caring and rather than just giving you an online service, they are always on hand to help you out. I have used them numerous times on many of my projects below for Chill your Beans.
Here is why instantprint think connecting with others is so important.
“We’ve seen a great shift from physical to digital communication over the past few decades. We launched 10 years ago when sceptics claimed that ‘print is dead’. If anything, physical, tangible communication is more important than ever. In a world where we’re bombarded with social media, emails and phone notifications, people are screaming out for something offline – something they can touch, feel and keep. From business cards to postcards, booklets to leaflets – these simple tools are increasingly helping people turn an interaction into a long-standing relationship. Just think of the postcards you’ve treasured, leaflets you’ve tucked away and business cards that stay in your wallet or purse.” Becky, Community Manager at instantprint
Technology has made it easier for us to communicate. We can text, email, use messaging apps and social media. We even wish our nearest and dearest Happy Birthday on these apps. So, in order to create a strong connection with others, on their birthday or at other important events create some cards to send out. You can make some birthday or Christmas cards or how about your own postcards as little thank you notes. Send these out every so often to let someone know you are thinking of them. We used to get so much mail through the door, leaflets and random offers from businesses. Now this has mostly stopped. It is novel to get things through the door. This also takes more effort on our part and shows more meaning than a social media message. Give it a try. Create your own cards on instantprint and send them out.
Gratitude and Random acts of Kindness are very prosocial behaviours. They help us connect with others. You can, like suggested above create some postcards to send out every so often showing you are grateful to someone. Or how about we start a new Random act of kindness. I am sure you may have seen the ‘Love on the Rocks’ painted stones lying around for you to find. You can pick them up and take them home and they look lovely. These are randomly painted by strangers and left for others to find and keep. Why don’t you try creating a bunch of bookmarks or business cards with little messages on? Such as the ones below I have created. These can be left anywhere for the finder to keep. It helps us connect with others by spreading a little joy and smiles.
The front and back of a bookmark I created on instantprint to leave for strangers. It is so easy to make your own or use a design ready on the website. Think about how you would feel if you found one, or how you would feel if you left one for someone else. It brings us closer together. Give it a try yourself.
Going back to the quote at the start of this blog social connection is hugely important to our wellbeing and it is important from the day we are born. We need other people. We live very independent lives and we can of course spend time alone and work by ourselves, but we also must remember that we need our fellow humans too. We are all in this together. What we do and say and how we make each other feel is important. Loneliness is bad for your health, physically and mentally. Find ways to connect with others and keep the practice up. What we practice grows stronger as we grow and change as people.
A huge thank you to the contribution from Becky and the instantprint team. Head over to their page and check them out.
Have a Happy May, Cat xx