August 10, 2015
A few months ago, health coach Jenny Sansouci published a short e-guide on The 3 Pillars of Optimal Health. I found it fantastic to find a health coach (who is very focused on nutrition none the less) not mention food at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about eating healthy and exercising – it’s my sanity. But I’ve always had this inkling that there had to be something a little more than just focusing on ourselves. And there it was, nestled after the importance of water and sleep – human connection.
I grew up in a social family. My father was mayor during my childhood, which meant homework was done in the car on the way to a function and I usually fell asleep on a cushioned bench in the hallway of a VFW.
When I moved away from home, the functions (ed’s note: there was no shortage of dollar beer nights) began to dwindle. After college, when I continued to move locations and enter into “emerging adulthood” I noticed a slight hint of depression that would sink in when alone that I couldn’t peg.
In turn, I leaned more and more on holistic living. Which helped. But it also brought a strange case of the HAVE to be asleep early, can’t drink, can’t eat gluten, can’t have fun thoughts. Sometimes weeks would go by without something to celebrate. On the upside, I wasn’t drinking as much, I was eating healthy and exercising regularly. Yet, I still didn’t feel the wholeness my intuition kept whispering existed.
Fast forward to this past year, I made some great adult friends. The new friends weren’t as holistic as I had imagined they would be (should i break up with them?) and I certainly wasn’t able to maintain the same level of health I had when I spent more time alone. But I noticed something else. I felt healthier. My digestion was better and I was content/happy/enthusiastic (insert all the feels). It got me thinking about connection, what it entails, and most of all what it brings into your life.
Scientist Matthew Lieberman states “that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water. It’s a lifeline.” It’s also said to not only make us happier, but it makes way for lower risk of mental health, decreases the odds of stress-related health problems, strengthens our identity and allows for faster recovery from illness or trauma. Human connection can also boost our creativity, keep us balanced, create opportunities and make us feel like we are part of something larger than ourselves.
And to top it off, psychologist James H. Fowler, who has studied the data of 5,000 people for 20 years, states “we found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.” So not only does human connection uplift our own lives, but through that, we’re uplifting people we don’t even know. Can I get a hell yeah?
It’s important to note, that while social media may help us connect to the world around us and sooth a sense of longing we can’t understand, none of these technologies involve the human touch or the energy of another person exchanged in person. Our eyes, skin, tongue, ears and nostrils are here to receive the nourishment we get from relationships. Things that aren’t fulfilled through the world-wide web.
Ayurveda Expert Monica Bloom states “It is a vata imbalance where there is a lack of nourishment, grounding, and touch. The TRIPPY thing is that the computer is also vata imbalancing…so it’s a circle. Lonely – go to computer. Computer – makes you feel more lonely. Because the computer is not alive and breathing, we don’t get any energy from it, there is no prana, no life.”
One would think I would stop writing there and go outside, and I will shortly, BUT we also need to talk about how recent studies show that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, but human connection. And that quite possibly, the disconnection we have as a society is what is driving the rise in addiction, loneliness, and depression.
Looking back on the last year of my life and the human connection i’ve incorporated into it, it makes sense that I experienced some of the biggest shifts yet. I was able to make huge progress in breaking addictions and bad habits such as sugar, lack of discipline and negative chatter. I’ve also been able to go deeper in all my other relationships. I’ve learned the importance of showing up for your friends, making the time, being present and even being vulnerable. I’ve let my personality come out and in turn, theirs have come out too. Belly laugh city.
And because relationships are a form of nourishment – you know there has to be an Ayurvedic twist.
Through understanding the doshas we can better understand those we have connections with. Often times, we try to mold people to how we think they “should be.” Not only will that not work, but it can be detrimental and have the opposite effect of human connection.
Enter the doshic personality types and how we can use them to be able to put up with our friends who are always late.
Social butterflies. They tend to make friends easily but don’t necessarily keep them. They can easily lose their train of thought and may need you to get them back to the point. And while they are creative they can also be insecure. They change their mind often, but in return are very open-minded.
Ways to associate better with vata’s is by helping them find stability and listening to their ever-changing ideas. Give them a big hug and create a safe haven for them. Providing stability to a vata will help balance out their flighty way of life (that keeps things interesting mind you.)
The pitta friend is the one with the plan. They are organized and know how to make things happen. They can be very well spoken, but also workaholics. They make a lot of friends in their work setting. Let it be noted – they aren’t that sentimental. They also have the drive and energy to execute. Beware, if you end up on their bad side, they make bitter enemies.
It can be a challenge to hang out with Pitta’s because they can have a their way is the best way attitude. But you can trust this person will always have your back. If you know when to nod your head and let them be right in their own way, they will come around to reason. Truthfully, they crave harmony more than anyone else.
Your calm, receptive compassionate friends are most likely Kapha. For a Kapha, a few long-lasting friends will do. They are solid and stable, and will listen to all of your ideas, mulling them over to give you the best response. They love to take care of their friends and you can always count on them to help you when in need. They value friendships and appreciate everything you do for them.
A kapha is emotional and sentimental but, when not cared for properly, they become clingy and possessive. They can have a hard time leaving their cave and may need a friend to give them that extra push. While they may dislike you at the time, they will most certainly thank you later. Once they get going, they will gain momentum and have steady energy throughout the day.
Through understanding the importance of human connections and the different characters that come along for the ride, we are one, very big step closer to that wholeness we search for. That happiness that beckons to have a place in our lives. And the connection that allows us to radiate it out. And let it be known, that after the high of recognizing human connection, and implementing it more in my life I’ve had to re-write many a stories that I told myself for years. I’ve also had to figure out new ways to fit my own personal care in and play with the balance of it all (that we will save for another post). All in a ships time.