The Importance of Social Connection
Awareness, Courage & Love Global Project
by Emily Jacobson, PhD, & Mavis Tsai, PhD
Think about the last time you felt truly connected to another human being. If you’re like most of us, it’s easy to get ingrained in the day-to-day habit of exchanging pleasantries, small talk, and transactional conversations (when was the last time you answered truthfully to the question, “How are you?”). It’s less common to have more meaningful interactions that leave you feeling truly seen and heard.
The importance of connecting with others is paramount throughout the lifespan, especially as we age. Research is mounting showing that loneliness and lack of social connection increase the risk of premature death as much as excessive smoking, and more than excessive drinking, air pollution, and obesity. The problem of widespread loneliness has become so severe that it is referred to as the “loneliness epidemic.” In fact, a recent survey released by AARP Foundation found that 1 in 3 U.S. adults age 45 and older are lonely.
To address the public health threat of loneliness, Awareness, Courage & Love (ACL) Global Project, a non-profit organization, brings people together through Meetups around the world aimed at increasing social connectedness and decreasing social isolation. The groups use evidence-based scientific principles to facilitate present-moment authentic interactions through vulnerable self-disclosure and compassionate responsiveness, which research has shown to be key ingredients for fulfilling human connection.
Our mission is to train leaders worldwide in ACL principles so that they can teach community members how to meet life’s challenges through deepening interpersonal connection and rising to live more true to themselves. We focus on a different theme each month, such as exploring what is personally meaningful to create and experience; creating extraordinary and unforgettable interactions; and cultivating courage to face the unknown.
Come visit us at a Seattle ACL Meetup! We usually have a nice mixture of regulars and first-timers—everyone is welcome. Bring someone you’d like to get closer to or just be open to connecting with new people. Plus you will leave with tools that you can use with yourself and others to continue moving towards valued directions in life.
- Awareness, Courage & Love (ACL) Global Project
- Seattle ACL Meetup
- Create Extraordinary Interactions, TEDx Talk by Mavis Tsai, PhD
- Loneliness and Social Connections: A National Survey of Adults 45 and Older by G. Oscar Anderson, Colette Thayer, AARP Research, September 2018
- Center for the Science of Social Connection
- Center for Courage and Renewal
- King Country Library System Wisdom Cafés
- On Being