As put forward by the New Economic Foundation the 5 Ways to Well-being are:

  1. Take notice
  2. Be active
  3. Keep learning
  4. Connect
  5. Give

In this fourth of the series I’ll be taking a look at the element of ‘connect’.

As human beings we need the company of others to thrive. We may connect with people on different levels; from a simple smile as we pass someone on the street to the intimacy between loved ones. When we ‘connect’ well with someone it can spark excitement, joy and understanding. Have you ever started a conversation with a stranger and felt like you’ve known them for years by the end of it? About 2 years ago I got chatting to a lady on a walk; we really hit it off and felt like friends only a couple of hours later and we’ve since stayed in touch. Last year I went out to visit her in France.

Connecting with others provides us with a support network and enriches our lives. We can share ideas, concerns and experiences. It is often more fulfilling when we share a special moment with someone else.

Neon sign

Connect with yourself

It’s also important that we connect fully with ourselves. Take time to listen to your own thoughts and acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing. The joy of being human is the vast range of emotions we are able to experience. Often happiness is sweeter following a period of sadness. Don’t try to hide or suppress your emotions – acknowledge them, decide whether you want to continue feeling that way and if you don’t, make a conscious effort to do something about it.
Connect with your body too – what’s it trying to tell you? If you are tired all the time maybe you need to slow down and rest more. Are you actually hungry or are you bored / lonely / tired? When we don’t listen to our body it can result in illness – our body’s way of making us take it easy!

 Connection takes time

Although you sometimes just ‘click’ immediately with someone, often relationships and friendships take time to grow and develop. It’s worth your investment though as when you do build meaningful connections the rewards are beautiful.

There are very few circumstances where it’s appropriate to tell your life story on the first encounter. It takes time to build up trust with someone and establish boundaries. It’s vital that we have people in our lives who we can open up to but choose them wisely.

Ideas for building connection:

  • Write to or message an old friend
  • Smile at your neighbour and say hello
  • Start a conversation with someone at the bus stop or on the train
  • Make the effort to find out something new about a work colleague
  • Join a local group


Listening fully

When you are having a conversation with someone, give them your full attention. Don’t stare at them but do give eye contact, acknowledge you are listening by nodding or small gestures and ask relevant questions. Listening to understand is very different to listening to respond! If you are forming a response in your head or thinking about how you would have dealt with xyz while the other person is still talking, then you are not listening fully. Notice what they are saying and how they are saying it – our tone of voice and body language tells it’s own story!