Is Something Valuable Missing from Your Life?

Restoring community one micro-moment at a time.

Posted Aug 04, 2018

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Confidences, public domain from Wikimedia commons.
Source: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Confidences, public domain from Wikimedia commons.

We live in a confusing, challenging, and stressful world. Many people spend their time frantically multitasking, dashing around, trying to keep up. Although connected 24/7 on the Internet, we are increasingly disconnected from ourselves and one another. Over 40 million Americans have anxiety disorders, 16 million suffer from depression, and the annual suicide rate has increased by 24 percent (ADAA; NIMH, Twenge, 2000). 

To flourish as individuals and a nation, we need community—people we can count on, people we can trust. A community of trust is essential to our mental and physical health (Umberson & Montez, 2010; see also Dreher, 1996). 

Decades ago, more Americans knew their neighbors. With less mobility, we had people we knew nearby to exchange greetings, share harvests from our gardens, do each other favors, and offer mutual support. We knew the local bank tellers, druggists, and bookstore owners by name. But now many bank tellers, druggists, and bookstore owners have been replaced by automation and the Internet, undermining our sense of community. Now many of us spend more time online than actually connecting with people. I see people walking down the street—even crossing the street—staring down at their phones, and couples who go out to dinner together personally disconnected, each staring down at a phone. Our sense of community is eroding, and with it, our sense of trust.

Yet we can help bring it back—and it doesn’t take much. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found that “micro-moments” of connectivity with another individual can dramatically improve our health, raising our mood, relieving stress, and reducing inflammation, building physical and emotional well-being (Fredrickson, 2013). These micro-moments of connection can be shared not only with close friends and family members but the grocery store clerk or anyone else you encounter in daily life. A simple smile, eye contact, presence, perhaps a kind word—that’s all it takes. 

We can make a difference. We can begin healing the stress and anxiety in our world by practicing these micro-moments, reaching out to connect with the people around us. We can begin cultivating a community of trust with small daily actions as we would cultivate a garden.

What about you? Why not try creating three micro-moments of connectivity today with people you meet—friends and family, neighbors, coworkers, or the clerk at the grocery store. Then notice how you feel and what a difference it makes in your life.

References

Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA).

Dreher, D. (1996). The Tao of Personal Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do, and become. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press. See her short video.

Twenge, J. M. (2000). The age of anxiety? Birth cohort change in anxiety and neuroticism, 1952-1993. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 1007-1021.

National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml  and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml

Umberson, D., Montez, J. K. (2010).Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51 (1). S54 - S66.