Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of the bestselling book Connect: 12 Vital Ties That Open Your Heart, Lengthen Your Life, And Deepen Your Soul calls it the “Other Vitamin C.”
Connectedness. It is, indeed, as nourishing as a vitamin. Several studies have established the importance of social relationships.
Hallowell, author of the bestselling book, cites some of these studies to remind us that social isolation can be as bad for health as cigarette smoking. “Short of an early death, lack of the other Vitamin C causes low-grade depression, lethargy, lack of get-up-and-go and a demoralizing feeling of purposelessness,” he cautions.
Caught up in the daily grind of life, we often fail to recognize the very fact that we may have become less connected to people and things around us.
Here is a short set of questions to help you assess your connectedness quotient.
- Do you eat at least one meal with your family or someone you care about?
- Are you able to call up a friend and check if they would like to come with you for a movie or a jog?
- Do you enjoy bonding with coworkers during lunch or coffee break?
- Do you know the details of your parents’ and grandparents’ lives?
- Do you sometimes give up other things to be able to spend time with family and friends?
- Do you know your neighbors well enough to be able to ask them for a favor?
- Do you know a good number of your social-networking friends in person?
- Do people feel comfortable enough to ask you for a favor?
- Are you invited to office parties and other social events?
- Do you think your family and friends would describe you as affectionate, warm, and “always there” for them?
The more “Yes” responses to these questions, the more connected you are. Congratulations—this means you have a healthy social network, are likely to live longer and be prosperous. And this is not just a pat on the back: Here is evidence backed by science.
If you see more “No” responses than you would like to, let it not get you down. You are not alone; so many of us have drifted away from loved ones for one reason or the other. The purpose of this assessment is only to help you pause and think about ways to reconnect. You can! After all, the road to a friend’s home is never far!