No Man is an Island – The Importance of Making Connections

Soul: No Man is an Island – The Importance of Making Connections“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language….No man is an island, entire of itself…”

-John Donne

Just last year, researchers from Brigham Young University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill conducted an analysis to determine the extent that social relationships influence risk for mortality.

In other words, can making connections actually save your life?

Here were the results:

Across 148 studies (308,849 participants), the random effects weighted average effect size was OR = 1.50 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), indicating a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. This finding remained consistent across age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period.

Pretty stunning, isn’t it?

Man, woman, young, old – strong social relationships actually increase our likelihood for survival.

This really got me thinking, as I’m what some may call a “hermit.”

You know you’re a hermit if:

1. Your idea of an exciting Saturday night is sitting on the couch alone curled up with a good book.

2. Your Facebook events invitations are piling up, either awaiting response or just plain expired

3. You pull up your calendar and realize everything in there involves one participant (biking to the grocery store, taking a nap, blogging, playing in the kitchen)

Check, check, and check. Guilty as charged, your honor.

So what’s a hermit to do? I know I don’t want to die early, and worst off, alone.

Here are a few things that I’ve tried that have helped me get out of my shell a bit; I invite you to try a few on if you find yourself ready to make those missing connections in your life:

1. Get Creative with your Play Dates
I’ve had catch-up dates with friends while running errands (walk and talk in the grocery store anyone?) – perfect for those days when you’re trying to squeeze entirely too much in but are overdue for a connection.

2. Schedule Phone calls in your Calendar
I find that if it’s written in my calendar it will most likely get done. It might feel odd “scheduling” a phone call at first but better to feel odd and still make that connection.

3. Enlist your friends to help
My friends know my tendencies to hole up at home, so they reach out to me if they haven’t heard from me in awhile.

Of course you can’t let this become a one way street – that’s just not fair. But I find the nature of a good friendship is one where there is an ebb and flow, and it’s OK for one person to put forth more effort every once in awhile as long as it flows back in time.

4. Remind yourself that social connections are FUN – and what’s life if not fun?
See below. ‘Nuff said.

Chicks with Stashes

This is is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.

And I’m finding more and more that the key with anything in life is found in the start.

Here’s to getting out of our shells – and living longer while we’re at it.

References: Public Library of Science: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk

  • Scrumptiousgruel Ellen

    There is a quote by Mark Twain, I think, that says to receive the full measure of joy you have to share it with someone. I am not getting that quote quite right but it always stuck with me. I need a lot of me time, too, but friends and loved ones(and pets too!)make the world go round…

    • Sabrina

      Yes, it’s that balance of nurturing yourself but also “sharing the joy” (as you and Mr. Twain put it) with others!

      • Mark

        I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged as far as this is concerned but it’s more how things have been for me for a while now, it’s not really me but circumstances have made me become this way, to a extent interesting post though I’m sure there is more that could be added.

        • Sabrina

          Thanks for dropping by Mark!

          I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic in some way again in the future – the beauty of blogging I find is that there’s always a bit more that could be added. Like starting a conversation at dinner without ever feeling the need to answer all the questions but rather find joy in what comes up (and hopefully enjoying the company enough that you want to do it again!).

  • Jana Hartley

    I definitely have hermit tendencies, however I fully understand the importance of having love in your life.  Life really is not worth living if you do not have love in your life whether from a friend or spouse or family.  A good book is awesome, so is some alone time.  Loneliness stinks though.  Get out and enjoy your peeps, it makes life better!

    • Sabrina

      Amen to that, sista! Key for me is staying aware and getting just enough alone time without letting it roll into the dreaded lonely trap.

  • Jana Hartley

    Of course, if I could find that island, with that exact beach in your first photo, a little alone time would be just fine.  Really, I would be okay with that!

    • Sabrina

      Ha! It’s so true Jana – our environment plays such a big part in how we feel!
      My life coach has challenged me to journal the 5 places I spend the most time – unfortunately that island wasn’t one of them but home is, which is why it’s so important to create an environment at home that truly welcomes you!

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