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Building Meaningful Relationships

Part of finding joy in life is making connections with other people that nourish us and light us up.

This might look very different for different people. Extroverts might want a whole lot of connections with a big social circle, while introverts may be more comfortable with a couple close friends and a cup of tea.

We all need human connection to thrive.

Science is increasingly recognizing the necessity of human connection. They’re finding that spending time connecting face-to-face with other people who listen and relate to us is a crucial part of creating happiness and regulating our emotions.

Technology and social media have provided us with so many opportunities, but they’ve also given us a world where we spend less time face-to-face with each other. It can be easy to feel isolated—even if you’re in touch with tons of people through your phone or your computer. It's not the same.

Also, sometimes as we get older, it can be harder to connect with new people. That’s because many of us already have routines, social circles, and busy schedules.

But connection lights us up. It inspires us, it shows us new ways of being, and it reminds us that we are part of a human community. And when we’re lit up on the inside, that shows on the outside too!

Here are some ways that can help cultivate connection in your life.

Never underestimate the power of stories.

We are wired to respond to stories. When we hear a story, we empathize with the person at the heart of it. We identify with the storyteller, and we connect.

Stories are our greatest shortcut to connection. Sharing a story about your experience or something you’ve learned builds connection much faster and deeper than talking about facts, opinions, or circumstances.

Be a good listener.

We all want to be listened to.

Think about how wonderful it feels when you’re talking with someone and you can tell they really hear you. 

It starts with curiosity—knowing that there’s something to learn from everyone we meet. Then it’s about staying attentive and exploratory as to what that might be. That state of curiosity encourages us to listen actively.

When we listen actively, it feels great to the other person, and it builds connection.

Step outside your regular routine.

We’ve all got our regular ways of doing things, our normal schedules, the places we go and the people we see.

Venturing outside this comfort zone once in a while is an incredible way to build connections. Take a class in something that fascinates you, travel, sign up for a weekend workshop.

These out-of-the-ordinary experiences put us in an open, curious state that invites new connections—and gives them space to flower.

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