Health Matters,  Life Wise Hints

Wellbeing and micro-moments of connection

It is good for our wellbeing if we are connected to others. This can be family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and social acquaintances. We are social beings, therefore we have a desire to be accepted, to belong, to be connected. Connectedness is important as it boosts our wellbeing.

Connectedness starts once we are born

Connectedness begins with others when we are infants. The Romanian experience tells us how damaging it is when children have little interactions or connectedness with others. When the communist government fell in 1989, after the Ceausescu era, the West discovered the state of children living in orphanages. The communist government had ruled that children were better off in state-run institutions than with their impoverished families. However, this was not the case.

The children in institutions had insufficient carers and they were left in their cots, without love and attention. It is estimated that these children received about 5-6 minutes of attention a day. The consequences of this were far reaching. Affecting the children’s emotional, social, physical, and mental development. Even by 1995 there were over 100,000 Romanian children living in institutionalised care.

Even after many children were adopted by well-intended Western families, the neglect in their early years meant that there were unable to connect, to adequately bond with their adoptive family. Connectedness or attachment with another human being must take place immediately after birth. Infants need to form an attachment with at least one primary caregiver for their social, emotional, and physical development. When this does not happen, children are unable to form successful attachments later in life.

Connectedness helps us thrive

In my practice as a social worker, I saw many foster care situations whereby children were crying out for connectedness. They wanted to belong to a family. To be loved and accepted. Not every family that fostered children were able to offer them this certainty. Yet, it is well-known through research that children thrive when they are bonded to their caregiver and have permanency. It makes a difference when children have a place to call home and loving parents to go with it.

It is no different when we are adults. We have a need for connectedness with others. Even if you believe you are strong and can survive on your own. You will do better if you are connected to others. We can survive without connecting with others, but without connectedness we cannot thrive.

Role model micro-moments of connection

Adults are role models for children and teenagers therefore it is important we all understand how to remain connected, even in a micro-moment. That might be all we have, small moments to connect with others. Yet, even the small, the micro-moments are beneficial. These moments of connectedness are good for our wellbeing.

We all have fleeting moments during the day. Moments when we believe not much happens. But we can capture the micro-moments of our daily life. If we do, we might be surprised how great we feel just by using the micro-moments available to us each day.

What if I told you that by not being aware of micro- moments in your life you were missing out on another level of health and happiness. Yes, it is true micro-moments of connectedness with others make us feel happy. These moments set off a spark of joy when two people genuinely connect, even a short-lived moment – the micro-moment.

Micro-moments captured in nature (Photo by Kathryn Johnston).

My week of micro-moments of connection

This past week I intentionally planned to look for micro-moments of connectedness with others. Such as, smiling to someone as I walked by or making eye contact and thanking a salesperson for their attention.

Still aiming to keep my mojo in the right place and looking for my wellbeing micro-moments I arrived at the Help Desk at my local supermarket. I bought to the attendant’s attention, while flashing photos on my mobile, that I only got 430g of Heart Smart Beef Mince in my 500e pack ($18.00 kilo). The ‘e’ means equivalent or close to 500g.

I thought that missing out on 70g when I was weighing this for two recipes had to be bought to the store’s attention. I ended up talking with four people until I received a refund and another 500e pack of mince. By then I wanted to be pleasant, but my desire for positive micro-moments of connectedness was waning.

The staff were doing their best, even though I thought it could have been better. Therefore, at the end of the transaction I thanked the person and smiled. However, my internal authenticity for connectedness was declining. I hope they did not notice! I realised for micro-moments of connectedness, for mutual benefit, you need to be genuine and in the right frame of mind.

Therefore, we cannot haphazardly engage in micro-moments thinking they will help us feel better. We need to listen to our intuition. It happened to me again during the week. I was on a Zoom meeting (that I paid for) and within the first two minutes of the video conference I felt disconnected to the person. I did my best to rectify this but still the feeling was all pervasive.

The person was either inexperienced in social connections in the job they were doing, or they had other things on their mind. Such as the next appointment or something that interested them more waiting for attention on their desk or their mobile!

Micro-moments of connection make a difference to our wellbeing

But despite my experiences this week I have not given up on micro-moments of connection. A smile at a stranger; taking the hand of a friend who is having a bad day and giving them reassurance; making eye contact and saying ‘hello’ as I pass a person on a morning walk; giving a family member a high five and a hug when they shared an achievement from their workday; sharing a momentary laugh; or a smile at a baby when their parent is checking through groceries at the supermarket. This is one of my favourite connections. It only takes a moment, a smile, and a funny face to get a smile back. It makes my day.

How about you? Is it time to start thinking about those micro-moments of connectedness when you are out and about? It will make you feel good and it is good to know that is good for your wellbeing.

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