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Chapter 1 The Benefits of Connecting
   Our personal growth and evolution (and the evolutionof societies) come about as a result of connectingwith our fellow humans, whether as a band of youngwarriors setting out on a hunt or as a group of coworkersheading out to the local pizzeria after work onFriday. As a species, we are instinctively driven to cometogether and form groups of friends, associations andcommunities. Without them, we cannot exist.

4Making connections is what our gray matter does best.

It receives information from our senses and processes itby making associations. The brain delights in and learnsfrom these associations. It grows and flourishes whenit's making connections.

People do the same thing. It's a scientific fact thatpeople who connect live longer. In their gem of a book,Keep Your Brain Alive, Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubinquote studies by the McArthur Foundation and the InternationalLongevity Center in New York and at the Universityof Southern California. These studies show thatpeople who stay socially and physically active havelonger life spans. This doesn't mean hanging out with thesame old crowd and peddling around on an exercisebike. It means getting out and making new friends.

When you make new connections in the outsideworld, you make new connections in the inside world—in your brain. This keeps you young and alert. EdwardM. Hallowell, in his very savvy book Connect, cites the1979 Alameda County Study by Dr. Lisa Berkman of theHarvard School of Health Sciences. Dr. Berkman and herteam carefully looked at 7,000 people, aged 35 to 65,over a period of nine years. Their study concluded thatpeople who lack social and community ties are almostthree times more likely to die of medical illness thanthose who have more extensive contacts. And all this isindependent of socioeconomic status and health practicessuch as smoking, alcoholic beverage consumption,obesity or physical activity!

Other people can also help you take care of your needsand desires. Whatever it is you'd like in this life—romance, a dream job, a ticket to the Rose Bowl—thechances are pretty high that you'll need someone's helpto get it. If people like you, they will be disposed to giveyou their time and their efforts. And the better the qualityof rapport you have with them, the higher the levelof their cooperation.

Connect and Feel SafeConnecting is good for the community. After all, a communityis the culmination of a lot of connections: commonbeliefs, achievements, values, interests andgeography. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither wasDetroit. Three thousand years ago, in what today we callRome, Indo-Europeans connected to hunt, survive andgenerally look out for one another. Three hundred yearsago, a French trader turned up to create a safe haven forhis fur business; he started making connections andpretty soon Detroit was born.

We have a basic, physical need for other people;there are shared, mutual benefits in a community, so we6look out for each other. A connected community providesits members with strength and safety. When wefeel strong and safe, we can put our energy into evolvingsocially, culturally and spiritually.

Connect and Feel LoveFinally, we benefit from each other emotionally. We arenot closed, self-regulating systems, but open loops regulated,disciplined, encouraged, reprimanded, supportedand validated by the emotional feedback we receivefrom others. From time to time, we meet someone whoinfluences our emotions and vital body rhythms in sucha pleasurable way that we call it love. Be it through bodylanguage, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice orwords alone, other people make our hard times morebearable, our good times much sweeter.

We use the emotional input of other humans asmuch as we do the air we breathe and the food we eat.

Deprive us of emotional and physical contact (a hugand a smile can go a long way), and we will wither anddie just as surely as if we were deprived of food. That'swhy we hear stories of children in orphanages whogrow sickly and weak despite being adequately fed andclothed. People with autism may desire emotional andphysical contact but can languish because they are hinderedby their lack of social skills. And how often haveyou heard about one spouse in a 50-year marriage who,

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