Looking over old notes, posts, and even bits of coaching sessions with different clients, I see that the sought-after goal, the dream outcome invariably revolves around the desire for purpose and connection.

If you have been fortunate to experience connection in life. You know, these are the more positive, productive, happy times. Things flow. You are on top of the world. There is no thought of “should” or “can’t.” You just are. Opportunities present themselves.

I want everyone to experience this.

Connection is being in a relationship or association, which can provide a context or meaning. We often think of it as feeling loved, having a sense of belonging. This connection—having it or not—will affect every aspect of our lives, including our health. If the need for connection is not satisfied, we remain unsatisfied no matter what we acquire, ingest, or do in an attempt to fulfill our need.

Food, drugs, work, toys, sex, …—anything—of itself has its value and is not necessarily harmful. Taken or used as a substitute for connection, however, these things can become a weapon turned upon oneself. There is no substitute for true connection. A substitute will fall short of satisfaction. It may distract or comfort us for a short while, but when that effect wears off, we are once again faced with a void. Our results depend on how we attempt to fill the void. And how we attempt to fill the void depend on our beliefs—beliefs of what we need to have, to do, or to be.

This idea is by no means new.
This quest is a big reason that we have philosophy, religion, meditation, yoga, exercise, Facebook, obesity, drug abuse, etc. Depending on how we use these tools or anything in our lives, we will either be connected and happier, or we will continue relying on substitutes and just gain more weight, take another pill, or spend more time by ourselves, living vicariously through posted images.

The evidence that connection is the key to health is also all around us.
Studies have shown, for example, that
• A regular family dinner with authentic and caring interaction will have a beneficial effect on asthma patients, i.e. fewer and less severe visits to the ER;
• After having suffered heart disease, patients who not only followed the dietary restrictions, AND also came together to prepare meals as a group, showed marked improvement in health over a longer period of time;
• A Mediterranean diet leads to greater health and longevity, NOT due to the diet (as the researchers wanted to show), BUT due to the togetherness of the small, close-knit communities in which the participants live.

In our society, we are so disconnected despite all our “Friends” on Facebook, and our staying in touch via Text and Instagram. Being together with other people, face-to-face, and being part of a community is the first step. Please don’t misunderstand me; technology can be valuable when used as a means to an end, but it is not an end in and of itself.

First, go out and play. Step outside and be aware of who and what is around you. Stop to smell the roses, enjoy the beauty all around you. Make eye contact and talk to the cashier or the person you pass on the street. Do what you enjoy, or start a new hobby. Get together with friends. Reach out to family. Invite the neighbor over for dinner.

In this way, you will get out of your own head. Interacting with others can help you gain a new perspective. It can help you realize who you are. Maybe it will even show you in which ways you are important, how you contribute. Your friends and family members can learn from you. You can help them. You might even find some of your own answers by helping and listening to others. Interactions with others allow for new opportunities to present themselves.

It is like the old joke: Week after week, a man begs and prays to the statue of a saint to let him win the lottery. Finally, in frustration, the statue springs to life and speaks sharply, “Go buy a [bleeping] lottery ticket!”
Motto: If you are not making yourself available, opportunities cannot find you. Step into the game.

Next, change your beliefs—those thoughts around what will satisfy the craving of the void you perceive. I’m not saying this is easy, and it will also not be completed immediately, but you can see a shift instantly. It is like those optical illusions, you know, like the young woman/old hag, the two profiles/vase, or the one with the cubes projecting out of/into the page. Automatically, upon first viewing, you only see one aspect of the image. Suddenly a shift occurs and you are able to see the other image. Eventually, with practice, you are able to easily move back and forth between the two. And you can never just see one aspect again. This shift occurs because you allow a new perspective, a new belief to be your guide. Both possibilities were always there, you just chose to see differently.

The steps to changing a belief:
1. Become aware of the belief.
Reflect on where you are and where you want to be. What thoughts need to change to bridge that gap? What is your limiting belief? What thoughts keep you stuck?
2. Articulate a new belief you want as a replacement.
What will be your new, empowering belief? State that belief clearly.Keep the new belief present, visible.
3. Consciously search for evidence to confirm your new reality.
4. Build the case for your new belief.
5. Visualize the new belief working.
Very importantly, visualize the outcome as real—sense the difference. How does it look, feel, taste, sound, smell?

Keep doing this, and you are on your way to living the difference.

To help in this process, seek support. Surround yourself with people, who help you build your case for the new belief. Work with a coach. And know that it is a process. Be kind to yourself. If you are willing, you can make changes.