Human kind is fundamentally a social species. We survive and thrive because of our interconnectedness. So it’s no surprise that positive psychologists have found that the development and maintenance of strong, nurturing relationships is one of the core pillars of happiness and well-being.
Christmas is supposedly a time of connection – we send cards to strangers we haven’t seen all year, we get drunk with people we don’t really care about, and we often endure family gatherings for the sake of tradition rather than genuine connection. We live in an age where our social connectedness is measured by the number of our Facebook friends rather than the quality of our relationships. More than ever at Christmas time, we get caught up in our own stuff. We get carried away with the trappings of happiness – over eating and drinking, rushing about ‘getting stuff done’, and stressing about the perfect present.
What if we used this time of peace and goodwill to really stop and think about connectedness and its importance to individual and community well-being. The behaviours and emotions of connection are centred around kindness, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, trust, empathy, engagement, appreciation, and of course love. What can each of us do differently right now that demonstrates a genuine and intentional commitment to connect with others?
Imagine if even just one person in every family took time out each day between now and Christmas day to really connect with another human being. What would you do? Who would you connect with? How would you reach out and in what way would that connection change you and your community?
Here’s some ideas:
- call someone you haven’t seen for a while just to see how they are
- compliment a friend – and then a stranger
- do a random act of kindness
- buy a Big Issue – and chat to the vendor
- tell someone in your family you’re grateful to have them in your life
- spend time with someone who’s lonely
- sign up to volunteer
- make a commitment to listen more
And if you want some more inspiration, need a prompt or just want to connect with like-minded people, check out one of the many on-line Action For Happiness or Acts of Kindness Advent Calendars. Just like an actual advent calendar, it’s packed with daily surprises that will help you connect with others, and is guaranteed to boost your happiness. That’s my Christmas present to you!