Inclusion Heals Loneliness

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The Dog Days of Summer

Summer has typically been seen as a time for trips with family and outings with friends, demonstrated by various summertime ads about destination getaways and backyard barbecues. Yet over the past several years, fewer and fewer of us experience the joys of such togetherness.

At the same time, toxicity around political and social events has increased, and many of us have turned to technology to fill in the gaps left by lost relationships. Since before the pandemic, many of us might have even severed these relationships ourselves due to differences of lifestyle or opinion, delineated here by the Survey Center on American Life.

Maintaining—and making—friendships can be difficult. But it can be easier when we try to accept others and put ourselves out there, as discussed in this episode of Life Kit. Adopting a regular routine, like a morning jog or weekly visit to a nearby cafe, allows us to encounter people that become increasingly familiar. A friendly greeting and small talk can sometimes take us from simple familiarity to genuine connection.

Though sometimes it may be wise to sever a relationship with someone who frequently upsets us, conflict in and of itself shouldn’t be confused with inherent toxicity. Conflict arises from a meeting of different perspectives or when beliefs are challenged—both of which can help us grow and better connect, as expressed in this TED Talk by mediator Gabrielle Hartley, Esq.

As we continue into this new era of work full of digital nomads and AI, leaders and employees alike are seeing more need for human connection. In some cases, leaders have responded by demanding a return to physical offices, to the detriment of employee wellbeing and productivity, outlined here by Entrepreneur. Indeed, greater connection shouldn’t require the eradication of flexible offices and the many benefits they provide individuals, organizations, and even local environments.

Rather, sometimes connecting with another person only requires that we look up at our surroundings. All it takes is curiosity about the people we see in our day-to-day lives, and that we look beyond our differences.

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”
― Virginia Satir

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