North East Connected

Connect, Connection, Connected: Five Ideas for More

by Sid Madge. Meee

Being seen. Being heard. Being loved. Being connected. It’s all part of being human. And yet for too many of us COVID has limited how we connect, reduced our connection and diminished our connectedness. We’ve had to socially distance to get the pandemic under control but many of us are feeling the impact on our health and happiness. There’s even a new term for it – languishing. If thriving is optimal mental health, languishing is the polar opposite.

We are a social animal, and we crave connection. Almost two years of quarantine-related isolation, constantly changing guidelines and anxiety is taking its toll. But we have much more power than we think. First, we have to appreciate our deep human need for connection.

In his brilliant book Chasing the Scream author Johann Hari explores addiction with unexpected results. Turns out that addition is not just about the drug. During the Vietnam War, Time magazine reported that using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers. The evidence suggested at least 20 percent of soldiers were addicted to heroin. And yet when those addicted soldiers came home, 95 percent simply stopped using drugs. Very few even needed rehab. Why? Because they went from a terrifying, lonely place with limited connection back to the connection and support of family and friends. The drug use was neither a moral failing nor a chemical hijacking of the brain; drug use was just a poor substitute for connection.

We need to connect, feel connection and become connected to others. These shifts don’t need to be herculean efforts. I’m a great believer in instant change, little ‘micro-moments’ of learning or adaptation that allow us to actively take charge of our situation and emotions in the moment, reset and bring more of our best to help ourselves and others. Each micro-moment intervention is designed to be actionable in a minute and I’ve written three books on these micro-moments for life, work and family.

Here are five great ways to re-connect and plug back into life – in just a moment.

  1. Get Connected to Yourself

I recently listened to a great podcast with Lisa Miller and Rich Roll about cultivating a spiritual practice. I love that there is now real science to back up what we’ve known for thousands of years. “We don’t make our way in life, we discover it.”

Lisa talks about relationships and how they need to move from being transactional (what we can get from each other) to transformational, where we support and help each other to reach our goals and be our best selves. When I think of my journey and how I’ve reconnected with myself, my children and the world around me the joy, love and connection I now feel is overwhelming at times – in a very good way!

Take a few minutes to really tune into yourself and imagine your perfect life. Ask yourself, if money or location didn’t matter, what would a perfect day look like? We’re not talking about extreme experiences like climbing Mount Everest, or being uber successful, but consider what your average day would be like in your perfect life. What’s so surprising about this exercise is that we are often much closer to it than we imagine. How many of those perfect life events or activities can you already do right now?  So do more. Connect to yourself and what makes you happy, peaceful and contented.

  1. Get Connected to Others

We are all connected. Imagine holding hands with the ones you love. Then imagine them holding hands with the ones they love. And then imagine them holding hands with the ones they love. I wonder how many times we would need to do this to be connected to everyone on earth. Possibly just six times!
Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other. As a result, a chain of “friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It is also known as the six handshakes rule.

In Covid we have retreated but it’s time to push out again. Take a minute to think about someone you’ve not seen because of Covid. A friend or family member. Call them and arrange to meet up. Go for a walk outside in nature or go for a coffee or if they are too far away hop on FaceTime or Zoom. It might feel a bit odd to start with but it’s still possible to connect and laugh and enjoy each other’s company and companionship without being in the same room.

  1. A Random Act of Kindness Everyday

Historian Rutger Bregman argues for a new way of thinking about humanity that is especially relevant right now. He argues that it’s not only viruses that are contagious, but our behaviour as well. If we assume that most people are fundamentally selfish, and if we design our response to Covid (or other situations) with that view of human nature, then we’re going to bring that selfishness out in ourselves and other people. Whereas, if we assume that most people are cooperative and want to help, then we can actually inspire other people. This may sound a bit cheesy, but there’s actually a lot of psychological research that shows that acts of kindness are contagious. They even spread throughout social networks and influence people we don’t even know.

Kindness is also one of the only things that doubles when you share it. Just one act of kindness a day reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Your body becomes flooded with hormones that help you and the person you’ve helped feel healthier, happier and calmer. Serotonin which helps heal your wounds, also makes you feel happier. Endorphins reduce pain and oxytocin reduces blood pressure and makes you feel more loving and loved. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone. You’ll both feel more energised, have fewer aches and pains, feel more connected, confident and even live longer.

Make a commitment right now that you will demonstrate a random act of kindness every day. Hold a door open for someone, smile at someone you don’t know and mean it. Help someone struggling with shopping bags up the stairs. We can all find ways to be kinder and more connected in everything we do. We may not always be thanked or even acknowledged but we will always feel better and that positive energy will spread.

  1. Be Grateful

The other thing this crisis shows very clearly is how dependent we are on certain professions. Around the globe, there are governments coming up with lists of so-called vital professions. If you look at those lists, you won’t find the hedge fund managers or marketeers, you’ll find the garbage collectors and the teachers and the nurses, people who are often not paid that well, but as it turns out are the people we can’t live without.

Take a minute to think about the people in your life that you can’t live without. The people you are most grateful for and make sure you let them know – every day. Think about the other things in your life that you are grateful for. Your health, the ability to walk in nature, your job or your home. A woodburning stove on a winter’s evening, having a laugh with your friends. Just take a few minutes at the start of each day and before you drift off to sleep to count your blessings despite the challenges we all face.

  1. Send out Positive Vibes

The power of verbal communication and its effects on individuals is well known. But we don’t just connect via words. As Peter Drucker (thought of by many as the founder of modern management) said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” A person’s energy can tell you much more about them and can shout out the truth far louder than words.

We are all connected to each other energetically. So, whenever you think of someone, you instantly activate the energy cords that connect you both, forming a connection. This connection enables you to plant thoughts, share ideas, send love, express emotion, and spread positive (or negative) energy and much more, wordlessly.

You might be thinking, “Oh that’s hogwash!” But is it? Run an experiment for yourself. Take a moment to think of your last interaction. Did the vibes that you were sending out impact your interaction? Is it possible? Too often we let the ups and downs of life seep into our connections with others. Just try it. Instead of feeling irritated, bored, frustrated or judged by the person in front of you, decide to send out positive vibes of ‘unconditional positive regard’. Unconditional positive regard, an idea put forward by American psychologist Carl Rogers is simply deliberate acceptance and positive support for another, as they are, without judgement. Just try it and see how the connection flourishes and the outcome always improves.

There is a lot about the world we can’t change right now (everyone is fed up with the pandemic) but there are lots of little things we can change to connect more authentically with ourselves and other. And if we all do them, we can make big changes for the better at home, at school and in our communities.


Sid Madge is a transformation and change specialist and founder of Meee. Meee draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people embrace change and achieve extraordinary lives.

From pupils to CEOs, Meee has helped thousands find their magic to transform themselves, their communities and their organisations. From leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates Meee helps people excel.

Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.




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