The individual and the group (DW#986)

Let us get back to our conversation about increasing wellbeing in our lives by following Martin Seligman’s PERMA model.

We were talking about the M in PERMA which stands for Meaning and we said that Emily Esfahani Smith developed a model of Meaning which focuses on the four pillars of meaning, the first of which is the pillar of belonging.

While a sense of belonging adds joy and meaning to our lives, it is sometimes less than easy to fulfill this need in a society which has become increasingly individualistic and distracted.

Research in various locations across the globe suggests that social isolation and individualism are both on the rise. Increasingly, people tend to spend less time with their loved ones and more time in front of their phones and computer screens – even if they appear to be occupying the same space.
As people have become more intimate with their devices, there is less face-to-face interaction, and with that, a decreasing ability to listen, empathize and connect in a wholehearted way.
Adding to this, the pandemic has created a loneliness epidemic, especially amongst vulnerable populations such as the elderly who are less keen to go out in public and assume the risks. People in the West, however, were facing a loneliness crisis long before anyone had heard of Covid-19.
In a 2018 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 22 percent of all adults in the USA — almost 60 million Americans — said that they often or always felt lonely or socially isolated. The problem is even more concentrated among older adults: some studies have found that a little more than a third of adults over the age of 45, and 43 percent of adults over 60, often or always felt lonely.

And experts remind us that Loneliness isn’t simply painful; it can be lethal as several studies have found the mortality risk associated with chronic loneliness is higher than that of obesity and equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

To summarize, human beings are social animals and social connections are essential to not only our wellbeing but in fact, our very survival.

What is the first step to increasing our connection and belonging to others?

Let us start by giving our full attention to those who are already present in our lives. By putting away our phones when we are in their presence.

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