Back in July of 2015, my husband and I returned home from our glorious 3-week honeymoon in Europe. We had just been married in June, and we were so proud of ourselves for working together in order to save up the chunk of money we needed to be able to have the wedding that, let’s face it, … that I wanted.
Still, on a high from the wedding and honeymoon, we returned to our condo in Atlanta, dropped off our bags, turned the water supply back on (which we’d turned off prior to leaving the country in effort to avoid returning home to a possible water crisis), and headed to the nearest urgent care. I had developed a sinus infection and strep throat the last 3 days of our trip. And while I didn’t let it slow me down one bit, I knew I had to get seen as soon we arrived home. I was prescribed antibiotics and proceeded home for some much-needed rest.
The next day, the carpeting in our building’s shared corridor was soaked with water. So soaked that it would make squishing sounds with every footstep. This had happened a few months earlier when our neighbor’s dishwasher malfunctioned and “flooded” his apartment. We naively attributed this occurrence to him too. 3 days later we discovered that this time the leak was from our refrigerator water supply. It had occurred due to the water hammer effect of turning the water supply back on full force all at once. The wood flooring under the refrigerator and in the kitchen was soaked, as was part of the wall. I was so concerned that it would all be molded and need to be replaced – which would mean replacing a portion of the wood flooring and likely stripping and restaining the floors of the entire unit to maintain color consistency throughout the condo. $$$ After paying for a wedding and an extended honeymoon, you can imagine that our accounts had seen better days at this point.
I remember thinking to myself how I would have allowed this to create a sense of panic within me before Jonathan entered my life. How I might have gone into a “woe is me, why is this happening to me” mindset. But that somehow, our partnership – his presence in my life – was something that grounded me. And now, with him by my side, I just knew we would be okay. We would find a way. Not that he would make it all better on his own. But that together, we were stronger than either of us could be alone. And that we were more capable of facing life’s challenges – together.
At that moment, the impact of our connection on my life was tangible to me. I felt less stress and more resilience as a direct result of it. It continues to have a profound effect on my overall contentment and offers me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself.
Well, positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor tells us that “social connection is AS predictive of how long you will end up living as obesity, high blood pressure, or smoking.”
He also dropped this gem. “Happiness is not something you inherit, its something you cultivate.”
That’s real. And it sounds really nice too. But how do we cultivate happiness and connection? How do we prioritize these things through the inevitable turmoil of life?
This quest is ongoing for me. Yet I feel I have seen evidence that is proof positive that we can achieve real results by incorporating a few simple things in our routines. Curious? I hope so.
Because over the next few weeks, I will share some of the ways that I MAKE ROOM for connection in my life – connection to self, to others, to nature, to my partner, to my home, and to a sense of purpose. I’d be grateful to have you on the journey with me. Here’s to a rippling effect of positive mindsets, solid connections, and a sense of joy that can’t be unearthed by circumstance.