September 7, 2009
by Donald Olund
By Don Olund, MA, LCPC, NCC
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How many plugs does it take to get you connected? For me, it begins with the coffee maker and ends with the alarm clock. In between, well let’s just say there are more plugs than I’d care to list. Technology is meant to make life easier, but in reality, it can leave us feeling disconnected. It appears we’re becoming more attached to our devices than to our relationships.
Humans are hardwired for relationships. Theology and science agree. In the biblical account of the creation of man God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Recent research conducted by the New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities concluded, “the brain is designed to grow and develop in primary connection to another human relationship. In other words, we are designed to live in meaningful relationships.
Think about it. Consider the highlight moments in your life.
What made them special? Most people would say it was sharing it with someone else.
My wife and I enjoyed watching the 2008 Summer Olympics. We felt a strong connection to the American athletes like Michael Phelp
s and Shawn Johnson who represented our country so honorably. Yet, we also ached for athletes like Alicia Sacramone who fell short. Throughout the olympic coverage you could see family members and friends embraced in triumph or defeat. In either case, there was a strong bond that fused their hearts together.
I hit the 50th birthday milestone last year. Throughout the year I took time to reflect on my life and set goals for the second half. One of the goals I wrote in January is to be more connected. My three primary areas of connection are: God, self, and others. I’ve done several things to reach this goal. For example, I started journaling regularly. I use MacJournal because I process better on a laptop than with pen and paper. Through journaling I connect with God by writing about things I read in the Bible or experience day-to-day. Journaling also helps me connect with what is going on inside of me.
Connecting with others has been fascinating. This year I reconnected with a core of friends I hung around with in grammar school and high school. We haven’t seen each other in over 30 years and when we met the connection is still strong. I have also enjoyed hanging out with my posse at the health club, an assortment of young and middle-age men who play basketball three days a week. We enjoy the exercise and competition, but its the camaraderie that connects us.
My wife and I stay connected by taking time weekly for walks at the Arboretum or sitting on our deck with a cup of java. We talk about the typical stuff: work,
household, finances, kids, etc... But we also make it a priority to share what’s going on in our lives--books we’re reading, ideas we have, dreams for the future, and spiritual matters
(because spirituality connects us). The ROI (return on investment) is colossal!
Our individualistic culture and pace of life makes developing healthy relationships a challenge. Consequently, as a society we’ve become more self-absorbed and detached. Individuals tend to fill this void by connecting to possessions instead of people. The gratification is immediate but short-lived. So the process is repeated until a pattern is formed. Not good.
How do you break the pattern? Connect your life. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t mean that it is easy to do. Getting connected means modifying the pace of your life to spend quality time with others. The best place to start is in your closest circle of relationships. For most people this is your family. Break routine and do something different. Play a game instead of watching television. Bike a trail. You get the idea. Remember, breaking old patterns and starting new ones requires time and effort. Don’t give up if it doesn’t go well the first time. Work at it. In future blogs, I will write more about ways to connect your life. I would like you to share your thoughts and ideas with me. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.