By Mary Jaksch
A key factor of happiness is feeling close to others. When we feel close to someone, just being in their company seems to have a natural, positive value. But when we lose the initial feeling of closeness in a relationship or a friendship – it can be confusing and painful. However, we can cultivate closeness.
Creating close relationships isn’t karma. It’s an art.
The art consists of strengthening our relational channels.
We feel close to others when one or more channels of connection are open. By channels I don’t mean our ways of communication, that is, whether we respond to each other face-to-face, by email, by phone, or in other ways. I mean something more fundamental.
All of us have natural channels of connection that create closeness.
Here are five relational channels:
Physical touch is a baby’s primary channel of connection. As babies we are happiest when we are cuddled up, skin to skin, with our parents. And throughout adult life we continue to derive a sense of security and comfort from physical closeness with others. In fact, as this article on touch deprivation shows, lack of touch can have serious consequences.
Sometimes we feel close to another person because we are emotionally in tune. What that may mean is that the other person is particularly empathetic. In fact, empathetic people tend to feel more connected to others in general.
- Intellectual .
Do you have friends with whom you have a strong mind connection? It can be inspiring to have friends with whom you can exchange your world of ideas.
I’m talking about tribal closeness here. All of us belong to tribes. Your family can be a tribe, or your workplace, or the groups you belong to on the Net.
This closeness is more difficult to explain. All I can say is that a closeness from walking a spiritual path together. A deep companionship.
How to Increase Closeness
When you look at the five channels of connection above, it’s obvious that you will feel most connected to someone with whom you can connect through every one of the channels. That’s rare. Most times, our connections run through some of the channels predominantly. The great thing is that if you feel a heightened sense of connection, it’s likely that the other person will also feel more connected to you.
Here are some simple tips on how to increase relational closeness:
- Open more channels of connection
Let me give you an example. I meet a lot of people through my work on the Net. I have a good intellectual connection quite a few friends I’ve made on the Net. That’s because in the virtual world, the intellectual channel is predominates Now let’s say that I want to deepen my connection with such a friend. How to I do that? Quite simply, through opening other channels of connection. For example, I might email the budding friend using a more emotive tone (emotional channel), or invite them to join me in a social group (social channel).
- Be deeply interested in others.
We tend to feel more connected to someone if we know something about their life, their struggles, and their hopes. Listening deeply to another is a wonderful way to feel more connected.
- Be kind.
Kindness makes us feel connected – whether we are on the giving, or on the receiving side. For example, if you let a driver slip into the bumper-to-bumper queue ahead of your car, the wave you exchange will make you feel warm and connected.
- Hug those you love.
Hugs are a wonderful way to express your connection. Practice hugging your loved ones and friends. Hug for at least one slow in- and out-breath.
You may find that some of these relational channels seem easier to you than others. Focus on what you are good at, then expand – little by little.
To feel connected is a vital part of happiness
Sometimes we need to stop and reflect about our connections. Here are two important questions: ‘How can I feel closer to my loved ones?’, and “How can I turn the person I like into a friend?’
Please don’t say, “I’m too busy!” That’s a cop-out. Building connection has nothing at all to do with time. All you need to do is to focus warmly on the other person. All you need to consider is how the other person feels, and what their life is like.
Let the other person be the center of your universe – even just for a moment.