Question: “What do you want in life?”
Without having to think for any length of time, most people answer “To be happy!”.
Now, how about this question: “What would you say matters most in life?”
I don’t know if there is a general answer to this one. However, whatever your answer, I am guessing that it in one way or the other involves other people?
If you start reading about happiness, you will, sooner or later, come across words such as Connectivity and Togetherness. This is probably general knowledge, but just to be clear: feeling connected to other people contributes to happiness. Through social media, we are connected more than ever before, however maybe not on a level that makes us happier and where we get this feeling of togetherness. A way of getting this good feeling is by being present when you are with other people. You may have noticed that when you give your presence to someone, there is an immediate connection as well? I would describe it as a kind of acknowledgment to the other person saying “you are not alone, we are both here”. Or the other way around, telling yourself “I am not alone, you are also here!”. So, in order to take care of my own happiness, I make, as best I can, a conscious effort to show up for the person I am with. It would make me really happy if I could always give my full attention to the other person, without allowing my mind to be hijacked by a thought that has nothing to do with the conversation I am part of! Also, being present and connecting is a much better option than walking around with a head full of me, me, me, my life, my problems, oh poor me, and so on 🙂
At the end of a five-day silent meditation retreat last year, having cultivated presence quite intensively, it was open for the 60 participants to share their views. One young man, I believe he was in his twenties, said: “I always feel alone, even though I go to work every day and have people around me. It is amazing that for the last five days, although none of us have spoken together, I have not felt alone one single time.” I found his comment a great way of illustrating how important it is to feel that you belong with others, how it contributes to happiness.
The picture above was taken in South of France by a friend of mine just a few days ago. People meeting up on a sunny afternoon to play cards. I find the picture so inclusive – and a good example of togetherness!