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Why staying connected is so vital to happiness

Staying connected

I was listening to ABC radio conversations this week on my way to give a happiness presentation to the staff at Cancer Council Queensland (CCQ). It was so ironic because ABC journalist Sarah Kanowski was chatting to Hugh Mackay a social researcher. The topic of conversation was how the state of the nation begins in your street and how staying connected was the key to flourishing.

Hugh said that loneliness was a clanging alarm bell. It was a sign that we are living in a socially fragmented society. In the near future one Australian household in every three will have a person living alone in it. And whilst this in itself was not a predictor to loneliness, it certainly upped the odds of loneliness occurring.

Loneliness is a step toward emotional distress, which can lead to anxiety

We all live in our own ‘boxes’, often shutting ourselves away from our neighbours. We spend a lot of time on social media and less and less time communicating in person with people. This separation from face to face connection pushes us further inwards, contributing to a lost sense of community.

Hugh reminded his listeners that we are herd animals; we are social beings who need to stay connected with others in a compassionate way. When we make compassion our modus operandi, starting in our very own neighbourhood, we begin to create safe, thriving and happy communities. Compassion is the key to treating loneliness and anxiety.

The last question that Sarah Kanowski asked Hugh was this “now that you are 80 what is the most meaningful thing in your life?” Hugh’s immediate response was personal relationships.

I had all of this information swimming around in my head as I headed into CCQ and at the end of my presentation a wonderful thing happened that brought this information to life. One of the participants called Bec came up to me at the end of my talk to look at my Happiness bank book. As she browsed through the pages she looked up at me and said “I have a wonderful idea can I buy one please”. Her idea was this:

Staying connected

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Happiness Bank Book

Bec has a small group of long term girl friends who have been separated due to study, work commitments and other life circumstances. Face to face connection is not possible due to location and distance. Therefore her idea was to use the Happiness Bank book as a way of staying connected. Bec would begin by reading the book and then writing a personal note in it. The note would be related to happiness and most likely something very pertinent to the next friend who was going to receive it. She would then send it on and request that the next friend do exactly the same. As each person received the book, another story would be unfolding connecting each person to each other in a very special and meaningful way.

I thought this was brilliant and I couldn’t keep the smile from my face.  It wasn’t lost on me that this was what Hugh had been talking about. We need to constantly come up with ways to keep personal relationships alive and thriving whilst living in our fragmented society?

I am going to wait with baited breath to see how Bec’s rendition of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Happiness Bank book unfolds.

Staying connected to others is vital to happiness

Whenever you are feeling lonely, sad, anxious or down try to look outwards and not inwards. I know it is a big ask and the last thing you will feel like doing but if you put aside your agenda and reach out and connect with someone else you may just forget about your problems long enough to experience a little ray of sunshine.

Be happy, colour the word with your presence.

Claire

Comments

  1. Hi Claire,

    My name is Josh Worley and I am the very lucky partner of Bec. I am currently spending 12 months overseas completing a climbing project while fundraising for two charities back in Australia. Bec shared this with me and had mentioned your presentation on one of our recent Skype chats. Like you, I could not keep the smile off my face when she was talking about this idea and again once I read your blog. I am sure you can appreciate the difficulty of being away from your partner in life for such a long time, even when you are pursuing a dream. However Bec not only makes the whole experience easier, but a whole lot more worthwhile and fulfilling!

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing this story and for the work that you are doing. I believe it is incredibly important given the increasingly fractured society we live in and the echo chambers tools like social media tend to facilitate.

    Keep up the amazing work!

    • Hi Josh, what a wonderful comment to receive. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect, you have made my day. It sounds like you are on an adventure of your own and yes I know how difficult it must be to be so far away from Bec. I have been married to my husband Paul for 32 years and we still chat everyday by phone at lunch time to check in with each other. Staying connected is so important. What an amazing couple you and Bec are, the story gets even better! I am so looking forward to following the book’s travels and to see how it all pans out. Best of luck with your climbing project and your fundraising. Living a life on purpose is vital to happiness and it sounds like you and Bec are doing an awesome job at it.

  2. Wow. Pulling my copy of your book out now and figuring out who in my life to send it to. Family group? Friends group? Book Club group. What a fun idea to let the people in your life know you wish them happiness. I think I will suggest they write 5 things/people that makes them happy in it. Then, when it comes back around to the original person, we can have a “Happiness Face Time/Skype” party reading everyone’s comments.Oh my, who do I start this with? I will keep you posted!

    • It’s such a great idea isn’t Carole. I’m so thrilled you are going to follow suit and keep the happiness vibes flowing. Your book will become such a wonderful treasure chest of joy. Please keep me posted I definitely want to know how it all goes. xxxx

  3. Rebecca Perkins says:

    Hi Claire,

    What a wonderful surprise it was to read your blog above. The best part of all is that I have used your blog to share the special news with my friends!

    I have just messaged our group saying : Happy Friday beautiful friends…. I have a special surprise for you all but to find out what it is you will have to read this blog…. ❤ http://www.happinessbank.com.au/staying-connected/

    I am so excited for them to work it out. I have already read and loved your book and am so excited to pass it on to the next person. We will work our way around the group – overseas and inter-state. Together we will fill each others Happiness Banks up and keep connected at the same time.

    Thank you Claire for bringing this added colour into my life 🙂

    Bec Perkins

    • Bec,you have made my day. I have the biggest smile on my face and I love how you have sent my blog onto your friends. Happiness is all about sharing and making others happy. Thank you so much for keeping the happiness ripple going. Please keep me updated with how it all goes, it’s such an awesome idea.

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