The importance of human connection was often modeled for me when I was a kid. I recall my grandparents connecting with family and friends who they knew for decades. These were friends through the depression era, the World War II period, and into the 1950s and 60’s.
These friendships had a deep history, shared struggles, and an understanding of who each other really were – warts and all. They would sit for hours to talk and laugh, and they would laugh some more. They would play cards, dominos, or just sit in lawn chairs in the backyard.
They would rehash a lot of the same topics, but they were mostly joyful. They were doing life together and experiencing human connection.
I rarely paid attention to what they were saying specifically, but hearing their boisterous voices telling stories and jokes made me happy.
It gave me comfort and made me feel at home; that is the power and importance of human connection.
Why is Human Connection Important?
Another example that illustrates why is human connection important is when I walk our dog with my wife, Mary. You would not think this simple exercise would be a life lesson in human connection.
But when Mary walks the dog around our neighborhood, it can take her an hour. She stops and talks to multiple neighbors. Young children come running to her. She seems to know everyone’s name, the kids’ ages, and so many neighborhood families’ “stories”.
Watching her interact with others has helped me as I have wrestled with my deficiency in human connection.
People across the globe are grappling with the challenge of staying connected with others during a pandemic. Humanity is also awakening to the priceless value and importance of human connection.
We understand why human connection is important when we are deprived of the most basic social interactions: going to an annual Christmas party, going to see a friend’s newborn baby, or consoling a dying relative in the hospital.
Missing these important events of human connection awakens the reality that we never knew how good we had it.
After the pandemic the world will not be the same, and now is the time that we as individuals can choose to be different in the future and invest in human connection.
We can let this mandatory time of “social distancing” inspire us to elevate and prioritize human connection in a way that we’ve never done in the past.
We can unmask who we are as individuals, be authentic, nourish relationships, and build more human connections that can last a lifetime.
How do You Build Human Connection?
Even though I have a family of six and I’m an active member of our church, I’ve lived somewhat isolated most of my adult life. I didn’t take the time to figure out, “How do you build human connections?“.
Part of my struggle with taking time for human connection stems back to my formative childhood years when my father’s profession required our family to move every couple of years.
It takes time to break into new social circles where others have a history, and it takes time to develop mutual trust. Building human connections requires roots to grow, and roots require time passing in the same place.
As I transitioned into adulthood, I focused on my career, getting a graduate degree at night, and eventually building my own finance practice. The profession I built required a lot of time alone, with hours spent mostly dedicated to silent research.
When I exercised, I worked out alone because I didn’t know how to do it differently. I was on an island surrounded by people and activity. So much of this activity was immersion in my role as a parent and provider for my family. During nights and weekends, energy conservation would kick in. I am somewhat introverted and could only fit so much into my mind.
I preferred to stay on the fringe of conversations, I was perceived as the quiet, thoughtful one. But there was a certain degree of complacency in the midst of that. I sat back and let others do the talking, let others make human connections. I was a consumer.
But there was an adverse trade-off that I didn’t realize I was making. Or I was in denial. I believed a lie that I didn’t have the margin for deeper human connections.
What I didn’t realize is that spending time building human connections is an investment that breeds contentment and pays dividends many times over.
How do you build social connections?
- Start by looking around you for opportunities such as with neighbors, church groups, or family events
- Research hobbies you enjoy and join a group such as a garden club, book club, or workout group
- Call a friend or two and plan a recurring reason to connect such as meeting for coffee or lunch.
How to Increase Social Connections
As I’ve gotten older there’s been an awakening of the importance of building human connections. I decided to shift from being on the fringes of relationships and learn how to increase social connections.
It can be intimidating and awkward to get started, but I’ve recently learned the benefits of human connections are life-changing.
My first adventure in purposefully building connections was joining a men’s workout group that meets daily at 5:30 a.m. called “F3” which stands for Fitness, Faith, & Fellowship.
Joining this group was a big step for me to intentionally increase social connections since I always worked out alone.
The group has helped me learn how to increase social connections. It has provided a channel to build relationships with others, to encourage others, and of course to be encouraged.
The group has extended beyond working out into real friendships.
This workout group is just one example of intentional connection. The opportunities for increasing social connections are all around us, when we are purposeful, open our eyes, focus, and choose to invest.
Where in your community could you learn how to increase social connections?
The Importance of Connection in our Life
The importance of connection in our life is similar to working on our physical health. It’s an exercise involving intentionality, focus, and effort – particularly for those where being connected doesn’t come naturally.
Connection in our life creates a positive flywheel that builds momentum over time.
Being connected with others imbues energy because it reminds us that we’re not alone. It is also energizing to help, serve, and encourage others.
When we understand the importance of human connection in our life, we can take action and start to build healthy relationships. Creating strong connections is an exercise in intentionality, requiring one to take the blinders off, and take some risk. It involves a mental toughness to push through actual or perceived rejection or barriers.
I had to learn that forming connections is not transactional, meaning we expect something in return.
People generally do not care how much we do or say until they know how much we care.
A recent Washington Post article described how the pandemic is forcing men to realize they need deeper friendships. The article describes how we must devise ways outside of the norms to build human connections.
Building connections involves taking action; calling or messaging others, going to lunch, dinner, or coffee to check-in, and connecting in ways that are outside of historical patterns.
For both men and women, it involves engaging in conversations with new people, joining groups, volunteering, and maintaining a posture of openness and interest in others.
When one cares and expresses interest in others, the connections form more naturally.
Be encouraged that you have something within yourself to give to others; everyone does. Embrace the opportunity to reach out, share, and build human connections that can last for a season, or a lifetime.
What does the Bible say about the Importance of Human Connection?
The Bible has many verses that remind us of the importance of human connection. If you are seeking more relationships, ask God for help.
What does the Bible say about the Importance of Human Connection:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one
person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise,
two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person
standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are
even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
I pray my journey of discovering the importance of human connection has inspired you. If an introverted guy like me learned to build human connections during a pandemic, I encourage you to try!