PART 3. THE NEED TO CONNECT
We now come to the third ‘driver’ that we have highlighted this this article series.
Remember how having a sense of accomplishment is so important to our sense of wellbeing, and being independent and in control of our own destiny has a big impact of how we feel about our lives? Well, this third element is actually the most important!
A sense of ‘connection’ to other people is essential for life satisfaction. Very few people thrive when they are living in isolation from others.
Let’s look at the positive part of ‘connection’ first. Think about all the good things in life that you experience. How many of them are completely solitary? Sure, you may have moments of awe, inspiration and satisfaction with something you do or see, but it is more likely that when you laughed uproariously, when you truly feel joy or happiness or other high points in your life, the likelihood is high that it was experienced in the company of others.
Dr Martin Seligman, the ‘father’ of Positive Psychology writes, ‘Other people are the best antidote to the downs of life.’ Feeling appreciated is one of the biggest indicators of satisfaction in the workplace. Being loved rates the highest in our personal lives. We seek out connection with others for a sense of belonging. We have a social brain!
On the other hand, loneliness can be disabling. Not to be confused with ‘aloneness’, which is necessary and desirable at times. The saddest events that occur at the hands of sociopaths, always have a story of disconnection, misunderstanding or isolation behind them. In a much lighter example, one of the factors that cause members to retain their membership at health clubs is the member-to-member and member-to-staff interaction. In other words, when people feel that they belong – and this comes from being part of a group, not simply the recipient of professional services or facilities – they are most likely to continue undertaking the activity.
Achievement of a collective goal is often more satisfying than an individual goal and again, to echo Seligman, ‘if you’re feeling bad, go do something for someone!’ In Wellness Coaching we say that ‘relationships are at the heart of coaching’ and it is that ability to work together, to feel compassion and empathy, to express kindness and provide cooperation and love, which is truly what makes people healthy, happy and well’.