The Biggest and Best Thing You Don't Know About Well-Being

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Let’s pretend we’re sitting down, face to face, and after some easy chit chat, I put on my reporter’s hat and ask you this one dizzying question: What is the single most crucial factor when it comes to living a happy, healthy life?

Take a breath. Reflect. Have a glass of something.

The número uno most important factor.

Exercising daily? Very good guess. Eating well? Nice try.

But it’s not the answer that can change your life in unexpected and remarkable ways.

“The most important factor in a happy and healthy life is a positive sense of connection with others,” writes best-selling author Michael Gelb in his smart and entertaining new book, “The Art of Connection.”

Yes! There’s tons of research to back up Gelb’s statement. Study after study shows that “positive social connectedness” will promote longevity and prevent dementia, diabetes and many other health problems.

Human interaction—with real friends, not Facebook friends—also strengthens your immune system, reduces inflammation and spreads happiness, empathy and compassion in ways that enhance your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Wow. All that, and you don’t even have to join a gym.

“What really matters in life is connection,” writes Gelb, whom I’ve connected with for years. I’ve always been impressed with his powerful insights and practical strategies for fine-tuning our brains, developing our creativity and, in his latest book, deepening relationships and enriching lives. Here are some highlights:

MANAGE YOUR USE OF TECHNOLOGY. “Attention is the fuel of connection,” Gelb writes. And when we pay so much attention to our digital devices, our relationships suffer mightily, and so do we.

“Overdependence on technology is perverting our ability to develop human relationships, and damaging our bodies and brains.”

His best solution? “Make relationships a priority,” Gelb writes. “The most important point in the book is... we must invest in one-on-one, face-to-face relationships with the people who are most important to us.”

CONNECT WITH OURSELVES. “We create ourselves through connection with others, and we deepen our capacity to connect with others through the work we do to connect with ourselves,” writes Gelb, who’s spent decades teaching clients and companies about the true nature of interconnectedness.

“Genuine self-knowledge isn’t a static state, but rather a continuous quest, a never-ending journey.”
And it’s never too late for that journey of discovery to begin. Yoga, qi gong and meditation are three proven paths, and there are many others. Twitter isn’t one of them.

DINE ON HUMBLE PIE. Gelb has fun defining seven relationship-building skills we can work on to enhance our awareness, our relationships and our ability to lead others. One of the most surprising is humility.

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending,” he quotes St. Augustine.

“Give up assuming that you know what others are thinking and feeling. Assume that you don’t know and become curious to learn,” Gelb writes. “Curiosity is the driver of continuous learning. Continuous learning is the key to developing the relationship-building skills every leader needs.”

SIMPLE ACTS MAKE PROFOUND CHANGE. “One of the simplest ways to practice the art of communication is to look for opportunities to perform acts of intentional, deliberate connection and kindness in everyday life,” Gelb writes. Smile at the bank teller. Hold a door open. Help someone get luggage down from the overhead bin.

“Notice how you feel when you do these simple acts. You’ll delight others, but you’ll also find that you feel better, more energized and connected.”

SUSPEND JUDGEMENT. This is a biggie when it comes to improving your connection to others and yourself. Stop judging! Everyone does it — Gelb included, until he finally learned not to—and this negativity gets in the way of our natural ability to connect. What to do? Become aware of the tendency, and nip it in the bud.

“Practice nonjudgmental awareness,” writes Gelb.

“Learning to suspend judgment of self and others,” he explains, “liberates tremendous energy for understanding and connection.”

Connection! That’s the major takeaway for today, because it’s the master key to your overall well-being. Listen to others. Free yourself from like and dislike. Be fully present. Cultivate the art of conversation. Turn your attention to people, away from your devices.

“Loving connection,” Gelb concludes, “is the underpinning of life.”  

Amen to that.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O!
AND DEVELOP EMPATHY
“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.”
— Dave Barry —

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com. © 2018 ENERGY EXPRESS LTD

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