Wired to Connect?

Did you know that our brains are designed to connect socially?

Wired to Connect? brain neurons

Image source: douban.com

Brain researchers are discovering how much our brains have evolved to thrive on social connections. For those of you who had close loving relationships growing up, this might seem obvious. For others who grew up without close and loving relationships, this is foreign territory. For most of my life, I have struggled with loneliness and depression. Even though I know intellectually that I need people, sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to reach out when I’m feeling lonely or depressed.

The article didn’t address this, but I suspect, for those of us who didn’t have strong social connections growing up, we have fewer connections in our brains, resulting in a lower foundation for emotional health and happiness. Positive psychology calls this our set point. Science seems to demonstrate that we can change and create new patterns that help us thrive, though some of us start with a lower set point. Here is a related article discussing the set point theory.

Mathew Lieberman is a social neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles who wrote a book called Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. The book outlines neurological evidence for the importance of social connections in our lives and some guidelines for how to improve our workplaces, schools, and personal well-being.

Since I didn’t learn or develop strong social connections growing up, I’ve had to learn to connect and reach out, one step, one person at a time, often falling down emotionally, to eventually pick myself up. Reaching out when I’m feeling down is still very hard to do. Sometimes a friend offers a kind word, act of kindness or a simple hug that can help lift me up or change my day. As an introvert, I actually enjoy and recharge in solitude, but I also enjoy and need social connections. The trick is knowing when to reach out and when to turn within.

Eric Tonningsen, in a recent post about big and small impacts, suggests we call a friend. Receiving a call from someone with no self-interest is definitely a treat in our busy world where most calls have a business or personal request attached. Nowadays, few people call simply to say hello and check in with their friends.

What are you doing to offer love, kindness or connection in the world?

Let’s connect those neurons and hearts to create a better world for all.

Blessings, Brad

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23 thoughts on “Wired to Connect?

  1. Good stuff Brad. Our pastor preached about the friends that lowered the paralytic man from the roof to the floor where Jesus stood. I felt it is my job to be that kind of friend, to make something happen for someone who is incapable of helping me out in return. Good post.

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    • I don’t even think the scientists really know, but they’re learning a lot, which often confirms what the mystics and wise men of spiritual traditions have been saying for millennia. Some of the science is fascinating, but more important to me is simple love and kindness. Thanks for being a frequent supporter of my blog.

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  2. Ha, I’ll run with you. Actually, I prefer walking. Thanks Eric. I thought your post fit well with the topic and I like sharing! 🙂 I guess that’s why many people do awards and theme posts, but I prefer spontaneous sharing.

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  3. Great post Brad! I am so grateful for your encouragement and support. I have many times marveled at your willingness to reach out and connect and you have encouraged me to do the same…you were my very first comment just after I was finally willing and able to open myself up for them. I am so grateful for that! You may be much better at this than you give yourself credit for! 🙂 Thank you for this post! Blessings, Stacy

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    • Thanks Stacy. I appreciate your kind words. I didn’t realize I was your first comment. I’m delighted to have found you and your blog. Maybe I am better than I give myself credit for. It’s easier, at least for me, to reach out online. In person, I’m becoming more withdrawn the last few years. And living alone with no family doesn’t help. I admire that you live your lessons in daily life with your family. blessings back at you!

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      • Yes, first comment! It happened just as I nervously added the comment option on to all my posts. It was almost the instant I figured out how to do it. It was of course, kind and encouraging and eased my anxiety over opening myself up online even more. I knew I was meant to do it. You gave me another of those Universe hugs at just the right moment. Your comments above about online vs. in person are interesting to me because I am the exact opposite. In person is so much easier for me and online a stretch. Love how we are helping and learning from each other. Life is amazing! Thanks Brad! Have a miraculous day! –Stacy

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      • How wonderful. I’m delighted that I can help you. You’ve certainly helped me too. Your post today was a perfect gift and message which I reblogged. This is my first reblog, so we continue the firsts together. I’m delighted to have you in my heart and community. Thanks Stacy.

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  4. Reblogged this on Stepping Toes and commented:
    Once born we have to make a connection with the world and have to learn to associate with it and to react in the right way with those around us.

    Step by step we have to reach out but also take hands which are offered to us. We do have to notice those who would like to help us to advance in the community where we are living in……

    We should be thankful to the Divine Creator He has provided us with a magnificent tool that can brings us further in life and make us able to connect in different ways.

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  5. Very interesting. Its always a pleasure reading your posts because they kind of feel like the other side of the coin for me, an educating read, thanks Brad. People need people,no man is an island? Regardless, wonderful read. Blessings xxx

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    • Thanks, I know what you mean about the opposite side. Lately, you’ve been opening me to new perspectives too, like being an extravert! I’m glad my posts are interesting. Truthfully I aspire to inspire and touch hearts, not simply share info. Time to work on my story crafting! Thanks for reading and sharing. 🙂

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  6. Reblogged this on Inkberry's Quill and commented:

    I have a big family, but I often felt alone growing up, different. I had friends in school, but I still in my deepest heart felt alone and misunderstood. I am also an introvert (INFJ) and have battled depression, reaching to the very bottom of myself. There are times when a simple kindness has brought me from the brink. When I could not reach out myself, and someone was kind to me. Kindness is such a simple thing, yet so under-practiced……..

    You are magnificent. All of you.

    Blessings, Holly

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  7. “for those of us who didn’t have strong social connections growing up, we have fewer connections in our brains, resulting in a lower foundation for emotional health and happiness.”

    Mmm..definitely sounds plausible. I’m touched to hear you share of your conscious effort to reach out and forge stronger connections. Many struggles in life feel like they take us two steps back for one forward. But I’m glad to see your beautiful blog unfolding part of your journey. It’s wonderful to see you challenging yourself, Brad. Hang in.

    Diana

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  8. Thanks Diana, I feel more authentic disclosing that I’m a work in progress. Even though I understand and write about many of these personal development ideas and processes, living them can be a messy business. It makes me more aware of my shortfalls. The tendency to isolate is one of my biggies. I appreciate your encouragement.

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