We're wired to crave connection. It's the reason social media pulls us in so powerfully. There are hundreds of great ways to connect online, but as a culture we find ourselves lonelier than ever. Turns out true, life giving connection—soul to soul, not screen to screen—is essential to love and friendship. How do we get it?
1. Avoid being "screensucked." Medical doctor and author Edward Hallowell calls all that time we waste pointlessly clicking around the computer "screensucking." You know how it goes. You're googling "how do I get Sharpie off my couch?" one minute, and then three hours later you've caught up with every friend you ever knew since kindergarten on Facebook. Plus, you've discovered what Rachel Hollis is wearing this fall. When you finally walk away, you don't feel more connected. You just feel like you've wasted a lot of time.
2. Join something. When we moved to Ohio we were still home schooling and we lived 25 minutes from the church. Which meant our neighbors were neither schoolmates nor church friends. In the busyness of babies, teaching children how to read and write, and maintaining some sense of order in my home, I didn't join anything. Big mistake. That was probably the loneliest time in my life. When we moved to Texas, I joined everything. (Yes, I was a forty something mom in MOPS). It made all the difference. This should be obvious, but you need to join something with actual people, not online people. Online communities are great for all sorts of things, but not for feeling truly connected to another soul.
3. Go meet your neighbors. (You'd be amazed how many people have no idea who lives right next door to them). Another story from Ohio. We moved in January. It was cold. Ohioans are different from Minnesotans (where I grew up) in the winter. They don't go out. At all. So we literally did not meet any of our neighbors until Hurricane Ike made it all the way to Ohio that spring. We finally needed each other. The power was out for over a week so there was no longer any reason to stay inside. It ended up being like a prolonged block party. That kicked off some great connections that lasted beyond the power outage.
4. Volunteer. Serving alongside others with similar ideals and passions creates connection very quickly. Plus, it's fun and it makes you feel good. If you're local and you're looking for this type of connection come to our Growing Hope launch.
5. Go to church. You knew I'd save the best for last. Most of my readers already belong to a church, but if not, I know a good one :). There's nothing like a church family to make you feel connected in this big wide world. We have served some truly amazing communities and have formed such great connections in all of them.
For more on the loneliness epidemic in this country and getting connected, listen to Eric's message from last week.