Dr. Vivek Murthy, M.D., the nation’s 19th surgeon general, identified “loneliness” as one of the most significant health issues in America in his book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. And this was before COVID, which has only made the situation worse.
I just finished reading Courage to Connect: Stories that create meaningful connection in your life, by Mark Ostach. It’s a fun, quick read. I would describe the first half of Courage to Connect as a “how to” manual that nicely supplements the academic writings of Dr. Murthy. Each chapter is a stand-alone personal story furnishing actionable ideas to battle loneliness. At the end of each chapter, there are some rhetorical questions and space where you can jot down some personal goals. Ostach is very transparent about his own failures and shortcomings, is very encouraging, and gives you hope. I would suggest reading one story every morning for a few weeks.
The second half of Courage to Connect is specifically focused on digital wellness. Both Dr. Murthy and Ostach believe all our digital methods of communication — including social media — have made a significant contribution to our loneliness. Ostach introduces us to a new word, “nomophobia” — the fear of being without a mobile device or beyond mobile phone contact. Here’s just one very sad statistic: 34 percent of respondents to a statistically valid recent poll admitted to answering their cell phone during intimacy with their partner. Really?
Ostach is very transparent in sharing his own struggles with the digital world. He offers some really practical — but, for many of us, challenging — tips. The second half of the book is a 30-page quick read. My suggestion would be to read all 30 pages (it probably will take a half hour) monthly for one year.
The absolute treasure in Courage to Connect is near the end of the book, under Available Resources. Here’s a link to his website: https://markostach.com/gratitude-notebook/. Especially following months of being Covided (another Doescherism), this wonderful little 14-day gratitude journal is exactly what most of us need. If you’re thinking about sharing this gem company-wide, I’d encourage you to order the journal printed in your company colors, with your logo on the back cover. You could give it to your team as part of a message from you. If appropriate, you may want to consider giving a copy to your major clients/customers, as well.