Connect: 12 vital ties that open your heart, lengthen your life, and deepen your Soul

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The promise of wellness and satisfaction has never been as ubiquitous in our culture as it is now.  Images of happy people stare out at us from magazine pages and television screens; they are successful and busy, hurrying from the office to the opera, eating healthfully and acting responsibly.  We are a nation of achievers but, as Dr. Edward Hallowell makes clear in Connect, what sustains us—emotionally, psychologically, physically—is connectedness, the feeling that we are part of something ...

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Connect: 12 Vital Ties that Open your Heart, Lengthen your Life, and Deepen your Soul

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Overview

The promise of wellness and satisfaction has never been as ubiquitous in our culture as it is now.  Images of happy people stare out at us from magazine pages and television screens; they are successful and busy, hurrying from the office to the opera, eating healthfully and acting responsibly.  We are a nation of achievers but, as Dr. Edward Hallowell makes clear in Connect, what sustains us—emotionally, psychologically, physically—is connectedness, the feeling that we are part of something that matters, something larger than ourselves that gives life its meaning, direction, and purpose.
    
Hallowell examines the real life most of us lead—overwhelmed, harried, pressured—and outlines the steps we can take to connect ourselves to the people and things that matter to us.  He elevates the simplest forms of communication, understanding, and self-knowledge as examples of the human moment: the basis for the bridges we build to one another. He tells stories of personal growth—one woman's plan to bring a neighborhood together, another woman's assembling of a makeshift family, a real estate developer's institution of company-wide weekly pizza dinners—and identifies in them twelve vital ties to a more connected life. Hallowell concludes that within each of us exists the capacity to connect with the people around us—our parents, spouses, children, friends, and colleagues—to become who we want to be and to be happy with who we are.

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Editorial Reviews

Maggie Scarf
In this honest, compelling and throughtly important new work, Ned Hallowell has captured the essence of our human need for intimate attachments. His exploration of the things that drive so many of us into wary, isolated positions and his wise, compassionate suggestions when it comes to getting out of those places are both soothing and informative. This book sets off so many bursts of self-revelation and elicits such a wealth of insight; it's as if a roadway to the inner world is being unearthed and disclosed by the most methodical and gentlest of hands. Connet is a potential life changer.
Napra Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For enhancing life quality, Hallowell has deceptively simple advice: connect. If it's a sad commentary on our times that people need to be reminded of the value of, indeed the need for, fundamental human connection, the author of Worry and co-author of Driven to Distraction doesn't dwell on it. Instead, he demonstrates the powerful benefits of connection through highly personal stories of his own painful youth and such examples as a couple who weathered significant strains in their long-enduring marriage and the creative life of his lifelong friend Jonathan Galassi (Farrar, Straus & Giroux's editorial director). Urging return to the "human moment," which he describes as "people talking to one another in person with interest," he notes some causes of social disconnectedness, including the quest for personal freedom and, ironically, advanced communications technology. Despite his prestigious academic standing as a psychiatrist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, Hallowell's style is easy and will be especially appealing to baby boomers searching for meaning and balance. Recognizing that individuals vary in the number and depth of their connections, he identifies many potential sources: family, both of origin and created; friends and community; one's work or mission; beauty, music, art, literature and ideas; the past; nature and pets; institutions, oneself and one's belief system. Two slim, concluding chapters suggest ways to examine and enhance one's own connections, but reinforcement is hardly needed after absorbing Hallowell's wise lessons. He may not be the first to identify the missing ingredient in many lives, but he can claim authority of a splendid articulation in this book. Agent, Jill Kneerim of the Palmer & Dodge Agency. 12-city tour; 20-city radio satellite tour; PBS one-hour special. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Hallowell (Driven to Distraction) urges readers to "make time for connectedness," which he alternately defines as having person-to-person interaction or being involved with something greater than oneself. He identifies "Twelve Points of Connection" (i.e., marriage, family, friends, work, beauty, the past, nature, pets, ideas and information, institutions, religious concerns, and self-knowledge) that can supply this grounding. Though a healthy individual need not be connected to all of these points, Hallowell asserts that some meaningful connection is required to promote longevity and personal happiness. This lengthy book, written in lay reader's terms, is packed with case histories and personal accounts intended to illustrate the power of connections. Hallowell is a crusader, with a tendency to sermonize, but his anecdotes are usually engaging, often amusing, and frequently moving. He concludes with a self-assessment quiz and "tips" to improve one's connectedness. This will be useful for those who feel disconnected, disconcerted, and discontent in a world where personal achievement has replaced personal relationships. Recommended for public libraries.--Yan Toma & Jessica Wolff, Queens Borough P.L., Flushing, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A rambling, chatty—and ultimately comforting—explanation of how interpersonal connections can improve mental and physical health. Psychiatrist Hallowell, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, draws freely on his personal and professional experiences to frame and support his case. His most basic, passionately held belief is that meaningful connections—with family, friends, pets, with art/beauty, nature, the past, and traditions, with work colleagues, institutions, God, and oneself—are what make life worth living. "The aim of this book is to convince you to make time for connectedness, even if it involves aggravation—and it usually does!" says Hallowell. He bolsters his arguments with scientific studies: the 1980s Speigel study of breast cancer survivors in support groups, for instance, and a more recent Carnegie-Mellon University study showing that use of the Internet is associated with declines in the feeling of connectedness and well-being, because there is no face-to-face human contact. Hallowell also provides illustrative case studies from his practice. Hallowell's own father suffered from manic-depressive illness, and his mother and stepfather were alcoholics. Hallowell loosely groups his discussion into the various types of connections and offers plenty of help on how to begin to reach out to others. A real boost toward building a lifelong support system, then; this has the overall feel of a long, comfortable chat with a trusted friend.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375403576
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/3/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., is a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the director of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Concord, Massachusetts.  He is the co-author of Driven to Distraction and Answers to Distraction and the author of Worry.  He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

In the Human Moment

Life is loss. For all we gain, we also lose—a friend, a day, a chance, finally life itself. To oppose the pain of loss, we use a human glue, the force of love. The force of love creates our many different connections. This is what saves us all.

If you think about what you live for, what really matters to you, you usually think of some person or group of people — maybe your spouse and your children, maybe a friend. Or you might think of an institution you give your all to, or your work, or a set of ideals.

These are all different kinds of connection. To thrive, indeed just to survive, we need warmhearted contact with other people. The close-to-the-vest, standoffish life is bad for your body and your soul. Like a vitamin deficiency, a human contact deficiency weakens the body, the mind, and the spirit. Its ravages can be severe (depression, physical illness, early death) or they can be mild (underachievement, fatigue, loneliness), but they are certain to set in. Just as we need vitamin C each day, we also need a dose of the human moment — positive contact with other people.

We know we need food, we know we need vitamins and minerals, we know we need water and air, clothing and shelter. Most of us even know we need sunshine. But most people don't know that a major other factor belongs on our list of essentials: one another. This is not a warm-and-fuzzy proclamation. It is as scientifically proven as is our need for vitamin C. Only here the C stands for "connection."

Don't confuse connection—feeling a part of something larger than yourself, feeling close to another person or group, feelingwelcomed and understood — with contacts. Don't confuse connecting with networking. Sure, every businessperson benefits from many contacts and a full Rolodex. And sure, networking is a good way to develop opportunities.

But at the same time, contacts can overrun your life like wild-flowers; they may be pretty, but they can suffocate important growth. Networking can distract you from your primary goal, as "opportunities" these days pop up like weeds, everywhere you look. The Internet is full of opportunities, all vying for your time. You can spend so much time networking, contacting, and surfing the Net that you forget what you're networking, contacting, and surfing for. One deep connection to a person and one properly executed business strategy are worth much more than a bevy of contacts and a frenzy of networking and surfing.

Luckily, the kind of positive connection we really need is available in all our lives. My experience as a psychiatrist, the experience of physicians in all medical specialties, and an abundance of solid scientific data all prove the enormous benefits of connection in daily life. But many things get in the way of people reaping these benefits, stumbling blocks like too many daily obligations, or shyness, or time, or fear.

You can step past those obstacles and strengthen your connections in a variety of practical ways, which this book explores. The benefits of connection will repay you many times over. Meaning, satisfaction, intensity, pleasure, ease from pain — the benefits we yearn for — are all to be found in various forms of connection.

I see the need to connect frustrated everywhere I go. Traveling the country as a lecturer or traveling the aisles of the local supermarket 2as a shopper, I feel people's desire to connect, as well as the pressures that prevent them from doing so. "I'll catch you later, OK?" "We have to get together sometime!" "I can't believe how long it's been!" People want to connect, but they are just so busy. People want to reach out, but they feel too hurried to do so, or too scared.

And yet their lives depend upon it.

In the Human Moment


It is only recently that researchers have proved the lifesaving value of connection. Among those who gathered the quantitative scientific evidence that now confirms the importance of connection, Dr. Lisa Berkman stands out. Before her studies, skeptics insisted that connections might be "nice" but were not powerful enough to affect basic biology.

Dr. Berkman showed otherwise. Now chair of the Department of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health, she was the author of the groundbreaking Alameda County Study, published in 1979. This study followed the lives of some seven thousand people in Alameda County, California, for nine years. To measure the effect of connection quantitatively, Dr. Berkman and her team surveyed the people to find out the specifics of how they were connected or not connected. They found out whether the people were married or lived alone, what kind of contact they had with friends and relatives, whether or not they belonged to a church or other religious organization, and how much they participated in voluntary organizations and groups.

Armed with this information, Dr. Berkman then looked at the people's risk of dying over a nine-year period. She found that the most isolated people were three times more likely to die in that nine-year period than those with stronger social ties. Never before had death itself been proved to be linked to social isolation or lack of connection.

The protective value of connection showed, under statistical multivariate analysis, to be present at all ages. The people surveyed in the study were of ages thirty to sixty-nine; a statistical advantage of living longer was enjoyed by the highly connected group at every age. Even in the presence of health hazards such as smoking, obesity, alcohol use, poverty, poor use of health services, and poor health at the start of the study, people who had strong social ties lived significantly longer than those who did not.

To gain the benefits of connection, it didn't matter what kind of connection a person had. For example, you could live alone, but have frequent contact with friends or relatives, and be protected. Or you could belong to various voluntary organizations, but not participate in any religious activity, and still be protected. Or your connection could come from church and family, but not from any volunteer organization, and you would still be protected. The key to gaining the benefits of connection was to have several kinds of connection, but the kinds could vary from person to person. The people who were in the most danger of dying were the 10-15 percent who were most isolated. This study has been replicated about fifteen times now in other parts of the United States and around the world, including Sweden, England, and Finland.

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