As we look toward the holidays, our focus often shifts to reconnecting with longtime friends and family. This holiday season, I challenge you to also remember to focus on the day-to-day connections that sometimes get overlooked or underappreciated, but can really make a difference in your own life or to someone else’s.
What do I mean by that? When Sara and I first started Language of Friendship in early 2021, our goal was to remind our readers of the importance of deep connections with each other as we weathered the pandemic. Yet, through reading, research and conversations, we quickly came to realize the power of connection in all forms, including the small interactions we often take for granted. Those can be the people we see during our morning commute, at a high school basketball game, not to mention our officemates.
One of the first LOF posts I wrote focused on the loneliness crisis in our country, with insights drawn from the book Together by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. As the pandemic exacerbated isolation for many and that continues to this day, Dr. Murthy’s book deserves another look as a call to action about the health crisis caused by loneliness and a general lack of connection.
With my recent return to an office environment and the commute that comes along with it, I was surprised by how good it felt to greet the train conductors, baristas and security desk workers each morning. These casual interactions we took for granted pre-pandemic are returning, and there’s evidence that even these loose connections are important to our wellbeing. These ‘tiny interactions’ as the Hidden Brain podcast refers to them, can help make life, “a little more joyful and maybe even a little less lonely.”
While Dr. Murthy is working to combat the loneliness epidemic on a national scale, we can all be mindful of how the holidays can feel isolating for many people. The Governor of Wisconsin recognized this, deciding to support residents in his state by creating a Social Isolation & Loneliness Awareness Week in mid-November, sharing that, “taking a moment to call, video chat or visit can make a big difference in the life of someone who lacks meaningful connections.”
With Thanksgiving week ahead, LOF encourages you to connect with those outside of your inner circle. A former neighbor, older relative or colleague you want to make sure feels connected and knows they are on your mind.
During my years caring for patients, the most common condition I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.Vivek Murthy, MD