This is a weird, wild, wired world (in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a fan of alliterations). We can access the entirety of mankind’s knowledge with one click. We can Facetime with people thousands of miles away. We can pick and choose potential romantic partners with the swipe of a finger.
Thanks to technology, we’re connected 24/7.
Simultaneously, many of us feel increasingly disconnected from each other. In the words of 90s hottie Gavin Rossdale: “I’m never alone, I’m alone all the time.”
In a world as big and busy as ours is, it’s easily to feel alienated, even with billions of other humans around.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Human connections are there for the taking, but it means getting out of our cozy comfort zones — it means reaching out to touch someone (appropriately so, of course). Here are six ways to feel more connected to other people:
6. Offer to help.
It’s likely you encounter plenty of situations every day where someone’s in need of a little assistance. Some of them you might ignore, assuming the other person doesn’t want your help. Others, you might not even notice. But once you tell the universe you’re on philanthropic patrol, you’ll be surprised how many opportunities come your way. From helping a little old lady carry her groceries to letting a fellow road warrior know their gas cap is open, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll run into lots of chances to lend a helping hand.
5. Do things you love.
By this I mean, do things you love with other people who love the same things. Don’t know anyone who shares your love for underwater basket weaving? Try Meetup.com. You’ll find tons of people who dig the same stuff you do, I promise. And there are plenty of other ways to pursue your passions, too, from league sports to art classes to gaming groups. Spend more time gravitating towards activities you enjoy, and friendships will form. It’s inevitable.
4. Be honest.
Telling people the truth about yourself is hugely empowering — and endearing. Our imperfections are what make us loveable, and admitting these perceived failings is often a surefire way to get others to warm up to us. When I started talking openly about my struggle with depression, I was AMAZED at how many people shared similar stories. The minute I led my guard down, people were eager to reach out to me. Image-crafting is so 5 minutes ago. Instead, be the real you — weaknesses and all.
3. Make eye contact.
This seems so simple, but how many people actually do it? Make eye contact with everyone you come across, and the world will start to feel like a brighter, more habitable place. Oh, and SMILE y’all! Flash those pearly whites! It might feel weird at first, but it’s a way to acknowledge another human. Otherwise, you’re just ignoring all the potentially awesome people around you.
2. Talk to strangers.
I recently wrote about the fact that talking to randoms doesn’t come naturally to me. Not at all. But SO WHAT?! I tell my comfort zone to go suck an egg and I chat people up anyway. And I’m ALWAYS glad I did. The vast majority of people are super nice and awesome and really want to chat. Seriously. Researchers have addressed the nonsensical human trait where we totally underestimate other people’s interest in talking to us, so we stay in solitude, even though we pretty much hate solitude. We’re such weirdos. Meanwhile, the results of connecting are almost always positive: “The pleasure of connection seems contagious: In a laboratory waiting room, participants who were talked to had equally positive experiences as those instructed to talk.” In other words, whether you talk to a stranger or a stranger talks to you, it’s likely to be a happy experience. Yet we rarely do it. START NOW.
1. Put down your smartphone.
I can’t stress this one enough. Walking around with your face in your phone equals instant isolation. Look up at the world — look into the eyes of other people. Talk, smile, shake hands. Cut the umbilical cord with your iPhone, y’all. It’s a bright, beautiful world out there, with lots of other humans you can interact with face-to-face.
Do you have any helpful other ways to feel more connected to other people? Tell me all about ’em in the comments!