When feeling overwhelmed, reaching out and connecting with others might seem like the last thing you want to do, but science suggests that our happiness depends on it.
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing my first Summit event. It’s hard to describe exactly what Summit is. It’s not a conference, it’s not a festival, but rather, something in between. The days and nights are filled with speakers, workshops, music, and interactive art.
One of the speakers I was most excited to see was Dr. Laurie Santos, head of Silliman College at Yale University and the professor of the school’s most popular course ever: Psychology and the Good Life (which was adapted into a free online course, available to the public). She’s also the host of a very popular podcast, The Happiness Lab.
At the event, she gave an impactful presentation based on the syllabus of her semester-long course. It was built on 10 practices for living a happier life. Much of what she shared is worth resharing, but one of the most important notes she made was about the importance of human connection, especially when it’s the last thing you think you want.
Reaching Out & Connecting
Think of the days, weeks, and months when you’re buried in work, life’s demands, loud children, and busy schedules. In these times of intensity, we have a tendency to think the best place for us to turn is to the couch and Netflix. The last thing we want is to reach out to friends and add more interactions to our day.
But, as Santos reminded us reaching out is exactly what we should be doing.
Connection is crucial for our well-being. Stewing in our own misery alone will only lead to more feelings of isolation and separation from what brings us joy. This doesn’t mean that when you reach out you should use that time for griping about all that’s wrong with your world. We could all use a little “skillful venting”, but all of the science on gratitude suggests that shifting your focus to what is going well and bringing light to your life offers more immediate and profound improvements in your well-being.
Living in the world of delegation, I thought about how often we repeat this pattern when tackling our to-do lists. Reaching out is the last thing we think to do when the list feels daunting and overwhelming. It’s easy to think that the best move is to take it all on ourselves. It’s way more work to delegate it than it would be to just do it ourselves, right?
Well, not actually. Often this is a fallacy, a classic misjudgment by our minds. By reaching out to let someone know you’re struggling to keep up, not only are you lightening your load but you’re integrating a sense of connection in the process.
Science also shows us that the act of giving brings us emotional and relational fulfillment. So when someone is able to give you the gift of lightening your load, you’re creating an opportunity for them to feel enriched by being able to help someone out.
That’s exactly why we love doing what we do here. We love knowing that when a member comes to us with their tasks, whether it’s to book an appointment, gather a resource, or find an answer to a question, we’re making a positive impact in their lives.
So the next time you find yourself weighed down by life’s demands, do yourself the favor and bring us in on your experience. Let us know where you’re struggling so we can be there for you and with you. It’s our honor to share life’s ups and downs with you and be there for you, especially when you are telling yourself the story that you’re a burden. You could never be a burden to us.
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Founder + CEO
Lover of cats, breakfast, and the ocean. Dreams of sailing the world.
Self-care go-to is sleeping.