Consequently, I've been thinking a bit about GIVING (the first item on the list) and how it can make us happier. We all know this to be true ín theory - after all, the 'Golden Rule' is one of the first maxims drummed into us by our mothers when, as selfish and egocentric two-year-olds, we absolutely refuse to share with our sister/brother/friend/neighbour/dog.
But as adults, sometimes it's difficult to make this connection. As our materialistic society espouses (just turn on the television for a primer): If you want to be happier, you need more 'stuff' - and to get more 'stuff', it seems crazy to give some away, right?!
Not exactly ...
Giving is actually one of the key ways to make us feel happier, more altruistic. More human, and less animal (although animals are known to share, as well). Giving can also foster connection with others, showing them we care. And who doesn't want to feel more connected?
Unfortuately, these days our view of the word 'connection' has more to do with our electronic gadgets, and less to do with a chat over the fence with our neighbour.
I've even fallen prey to this fallacy myself. This past week, my modem decided that it was going to randomly control when it would allow me to access the internet - depending on its moods, hormones, or some other strange signals I hadn't been able to decode. So I unplugged it and eagerly waited for another to arrive in the post.
Those five or so days dragged by, with me beginning to feel varying degrees of disconnection. But from what? Sure, I wasn't able to email friends or family, or check out what was happening with all my 'friends' on Facebook, or update my blog, or do some more research for my latest novel.
But life still went on. My immediate family were still there, thundering around with their little feet (and one pair of larger feet) in our wooden-floored house. A friend still dropped by for a coffee. We still went to church on Sunday, and talked with other friends.
So, while the internet (and social media) can definitely help in us feeling connected, it's really only one form - and a second-rate one, at that.
This week, I'm setting out to have more real connection with others (with actual, real people - not just thumbnail photos on a social networking website ;) ). And, as I mentioned above, one great way to do this is by giving. Not money, necessarily (although there's definitely a place for that), but in my time, energy, even ideas.
I'm looking forward to the challenge, and will keep you updated with how it goes on my Facebook page. Pop on over and share your thoughts about ways you like to give, or things you do to stay connected with others. :)
P.S. My new modem is great at keeping me connencted to the internet - if I could just see the screen! My computer monitor has now conspired to launch into static at really crucial moments i.e. writing my latest scene, internet banking, blogging. Gotta love technology! :-/