There is little doubt that the last years have been a catalyst, revealing many truths that had been forgotten or simply put on the side by the busyness of life.
Paraphrasing the German philosopher Schopenhauer, renowned as a fierce pessimist, we mostly realise the worth of things when they are lost.
As the world stopped turning and so many went into isolation, our social bonds were impacted. What we considered for granted for so long was taken away from us.
We feel we have lost our human connections.
Since the dawn of time, Humans have always been a social species, seeking connection. As we connect with others, we begin to form a group, an entity bigger and stronger than our individuality.
When the anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked what she considered to be the earliest sign of civilisation, she didn’t give an answer many expected. She could have named some iron tools or primitive art, but she didn’t.
Instead, she believed the tipping point to becoming an authentic society was reached when she discovered a specific human femur. This femur had been fractured and then solidly healed¹.
Any animal with a broken leg would be as good as dead. It cannot run from danger, get to the river to drink, or hunt. The animal can’t survive long enough for its bone to heal. So the healed femur was proof that someone must have cared for the injured person at their own expense.
It was the first true act of connection.
Even if we evolved from cavemen to spacemen, the ability to connect, reach out, and bound is deeply encoded within us. Our connections are not lost; they are simply dormant.
And we have the power to reignite them, reclaim what was ours and rejoice.
And to connect, we don’t need to do exuberant or flashy things. Most of the time, these are the little gestures that have the most profound impact on one’s life, forming this magical bond between two people.
Robin Williams, one of my favourite actors, is the perfect example.
He got known in the comedy movie “Good Morning, Vietnam”, where he interpreted a radio DJ based in Saigon during the Vietnam war, displaying his incredible improvisation skills that would make him so famous.
He made many laugh and giggle when playing Mrs Doubtfire, a divorced father who disguised himself as a nanny to keep seeing his children or lending his voice to the uncanny Genius from Disney’s Aladdin movie.
And Williams was not only a movie star, he was an incredible human being, seizing each and every occasion to connect with others.
Following the announcement of his death and still years after, the web abounds with articles recounting the countless random acts of kindness Williams made.
Many remembered how he would make time to listen, share with you, and crack a few jokes. At a coffee, in an airport or at the swimming pool — it didn’t matter; he was there, in the moment, genuinely caring for others.
Among the stories that flooded the news, a young man recalled when his father lost both parents in a tragic accident. It left everyone in his family deeply affected.
Following the memorial service, the mood was at an all-time low. Disoriented and profoundly affected, his father just decided to go to a doughnut shop.
Williams just happened to be there, and somehow they ended up talking. And as minutes passed by, the young man saw his father smile and then laugh for the first time in weeks.
The author Scott Adams wrote:
“Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
Robin Williams understood it all too well and created tsunamis.
Connection is different for each of us.
Developing and fostering our connections doesn’t mean we have to change our very being.
We don’t have to become social butterflies if we have a withdrawn nature.
We don’t have to be assertive or witty.
But we have to care, genuinely.
Showing kindness triggers a domino effect, transforming people, starting with us.
In a meta-study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers demonstrate that observing, receiving, and performing acts of kindness increases our happiness level². The reason being it releases a bit of oxytocin hormone in our body, also known as the “love hormone” ³.
And the more oxytocin, the more we are altruistic, trusting, and generous⁴ — which are vital elements to bond. So when we are kind to others, we elevate everyone’s oxytocin level and grow our connections.
Consequently, the challenge for this month is to go to one of your connections (or it could be a new one you want to create) and show care.
It could be simple gestures, baking cookies and sharing them, offering a warm smile or lending an umbrella on a rainy day.
Let’s throw a rock from the pound and create connection ripples!
PS: If you are interested in working with me (either doing workshops in your company or for your personal development), join my next workshop => click here.
- Brand P. and Yancey P.,1993, “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants”, Harpercollins Publisher
- Rowland L., 2018, “A range of kindness activities boost happiness”, The Journal of Social Psychology
- Hamilton D.R., 2017, “The Five Side Effects of Kindness“, Hay House UK
- Mikolajczak, M. and others, 2010, “Oxytocin Makes People Trusting, Not Gullible.” Psychological Science