102614013_MAs human beings, we need love! We are social creatures who thrive on connection and relationships with others. In fact, in the classic tale of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet asks, “Pooh, how do you spell love?” Winnie the Pooh wisely answers, “You don't spell love, Piglet, you feel it.” Truer words could never be spoken.

Human connection occurs when people feel seen and valued. Positive energy is shared which very often results in some level of trust being formed and that very thing is what creates a feeling of connection— something we as humans rely on so heavily. Fascinatingly, you can feel lonely even when surrounded by other people simply due to that lack of connection. When this bond does occur you feel understood and most importantly you feel a sense of belonging, a primal need that all humans have.

This feeling of connection is so very important! In 2021, a collection of research was published called the World Happiness Report. The report found that those who feel connected with others experience greater life satisfaction, increased resilience and better mental health. Strong connections and relationships help people more easily face challenges while maintaining a positive outlook. They also experience better physical health, increasing their chance of a longer life by 50%!

But the fast pace of life and the many distractions can sometimes leave us feeling isolated and alone even when in a crowded room. Here are 3 simple suggestions to increase connections in your life.

1. Disconnect.

Disconnect from screens, that is. When we are tied up in our phone or digital gaming worlds, our human-to-human connections suffer. Even though texting can feel like we are creating a connection, it certainly isn't the same as the connection that can take place in real life. Schedule time with friends playing games or going out together. Make an effort to say hello to people around you.

2. Nurture relationships.

Remembering facts or details about the lives of the people in your life can go a long way. Ask them about their new job, send a birthday card, check up on them if their child has been sick or simply pick up your phone, or better yet, drop by to see how they are doing. The more circles we build around us, the better supported we will feel while in turn offering that support and love to others. It is much needed in our world today.

3. Smile.

It seems simple, but just this simple act not only releases happy endorphins inside of us, but certainly makes us much more approachable to those around us. Did you know there are actually two ways to smile? It's true! It has to do with what facial muscles are engaged. The “social” smile isn't as genuine as the Duchenne smile, known as a true smile. The human brain can easily distinguish between the two and we quickly engage with those who exhibit a genuine smile.

Human connections are what make us, well, human! When we choose to create connections in our lives we not only enjoy better emotional and mental well-being but our physical well-being benefits as well. And, it can be as simple as sharing a smile with someone.

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