How do you keep your tank full?
Keep your tank full, and that of others, with positive social connections. Community not competition!
As human beings, we inherently strive to connect with others.
From as far back as history goes, humans have traveled, hunted and lived in groups -- with family, friends and acquaintances at our side.
Connection with others is, in a way, what makes the human race what it is.
Imagine our society if we weren't connected with other people: What would it look like?
It certainly would look dramatically different than what it is today, especially as technology continues to make the entire world interconnected in almost all facets of life.
Personal connections are what fuels us.
It's what keeps us going, keeps us motivated and keeps us focused and often feeling supported!
Making connections is an essential part of living a fulfilled life. But how can you know when you've connected with someone else -- when your tank is full of energy?
And what if your proverbial tank only got full when you played a role in filling up someone else's?
As salon owners and therapists we know only to well what it is like caring everyday for others.
The importance of connections
Establishing solid connections is so important to keeping us as humans going, to keep our tanks full. It's not just all talk, though; it has proven mental health benefits.
Dana Avey, a licensed therapist, points out that having a robust social network results in people having improved mood -- not just when they are spending time with others, but afterward as well.
What's more, Avey points out that studies are showing people who have good social networks are proving to live healthier, longer lives.
"When we feel better physically, we feel better mentally and emotionally, as well," Avey said.
There are a vast number of studies that show that mental health is directly connected to physical health. The better we feel emotionally, the healthier we are physically.
Likewise, when we are in a down mood, physical health problems often seem to manifest.
As a study by the Public Library of Science revealed, people with stronger relationships are 50 percent more likely to survive -- AKA live longer. This statistic proves true across various factors such as gender, age, cause of death and initial health status.
One of the most important things to realise about social connections is not just the benefits of having them, but the downsides to not having them. People who are alone and without positive connections can quickly become isolated in their own thoughts and feelings, without outside influence to shed positive light on a subject or provide support.
Being a business owner can be a lonely road when our friends don't own businesses, as they just don't quite understand are specific challenges.
Connections start within yourself
The vast benefits of establishing positive social connections are undeniable, and they are often focused within. In other words, the benefits of the connection can be felt within us. The primary reason for establishing these connections is also a personal benefit: To feel better about ourselves and the world around us.
This may seem like a selfish angle, but it has to be. If personal connections don't make you feel good -- if they don't fill up your tank -- then what purpose do they serve?
Will they likely motivate you to seek out more of the same personal connections, or establish new ones?
Author Sue Gerhardt writes in her book "Why Love Matters" that love is an essential element in a developing baby's brain. Early relationships of a baby's life help shape its nervous system, she writes, and this can have lasting consequences on the rest of adult life.
The first step in establishing positive connections is building an inner connection. We need to first understand who we are, what our feelings are and what makes us tick. We need to be able to love ourselves first before we can love others.
This is the personal aspect of filling our tank. Once we know what makes us happy, what makes us tick, then we are able to seek out relationships that check off those boxes, so to speak.
Once we've thoughtfully and truthfully done that, the next step is making sure the connection is a two-way street.
I often refer to the saying 'We like who we are like.'
The best connections fill multiple tanks
The amazing part about positive social connections are that receiving support, getting good feedback and interacting with others works wonders for all parties involved in the relationship.
Social connections benefit not only the people receiving the support, therefore, but also the people giving the support.
A Harvard Medical School report highlighted that "the life-enhancing effects of social support extend to giver as well as to receiver."
"Social support," in this definition, refers to the quality of the relationship. The support could be between a husband and wife, a brother and sister, two or more friends, or even complete strangers. Simply showing a level of care and connecting with people has profound long-term benefits.
A study conducted in Sweden found that people 75 and older who had a wide variety of satisfying connections with both family and friends were less likely to develop dementia than those who lack those connections.
And, as the Harvard Medical School report further points out: "All of this is encouraging news because caring involvement with others may be one of the easiest health strategies to access. It's inexpensive, it requires no special equipment or regiment, and we can engage in it in many ways."
I myself support 'Givers Gain'.
Put the oxygen mask on the other person first and then yourself. The other person you have connected with by nature will be compelled to know, like and trust you and really want to connect with you more. (you may even have just saved their life) and then you get to move forward on a deeper level.
Establish positive connections
By now, it should be apparent how essential positive relationships are. They are not only beneficial to yourself when you receive social support, but they are beneficial to others when you're giving support as well.
In essence, positive social relationships are what make us human beings.
So, seek out as many positive connections as you can -- from family, friends, co-workers, networks and even strangers you meet on the street.
It'll have a profound impact on your life, and will keep your tank full of energy.
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