The blog this week was written by Michele Momotiuk, Administrative Assistant at The Arcadia Institute. Research has shown that the benefits of social connection include increased happiness, better health, and a longer life. As written in our recent blogs, social connections are helping some individuals find jobs, many others to make valued contributions to the community, and are a key component to living well. I personally know that my life is greatly enriched by my social connections including having gotten my job through a connection.
But what does it mean to be authentically connected to another? In a world where I have 297 friends on facebook, I still struggled to figure out who to list as an emergency contact on my son’s school paperwork. I know a lot of people whom I can have a brief social interaction with when I see them in my neighborhood, at the park, or around town. But it is not easy to find someone to really connect with, to spend the time to build a deeper relationship, get to know each others gifts and dreams and authentically be connected. It is not easy, but these are the connections that enrich our lives.
My big take-away from the Building a Community of Belonging Forum that was held in March was that the twelve individuals with disabilities that shared their stories with us have dreams that I believe connect us all. We all want a nice place to live, we all want to feel valued in jobs or in other ways we contribute to the community, and we all want to have people in our lives to whom we are connected. At the Arcadia Institute, we have seen that when individuals are connected to others, those connections can be key in helping achieve all aspects of their dream.
I am challenging myself and you to think about the connections you have in your life. Do we have the friends we authentically connect with or do we have only facebook friends? Take time and effort to go deeper with someone and see how we enrich each other’s lives and use our gifts to help each other achieve our dreams.