From mystics to psychologists, all emphasize that good mental health stands strongly on the ground of great human connections. By nurturing your relationships and strengthening your support system, you can unlock the door to emotional well-being.
Let’s Play God Till Gods Arrive “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
That’s the power of human connection to navigate life’s challenges and create a legacy that extends beyond their own lifetime. Anthropologists and Historians believe that early humans likely formed communities and societies based on their shared needs.
Often small, with tight-knit communities, they relied on cooperation and collaboration for survival. This may have led to a general sense of peacefulness within these communities. But as human societies became more complex and hierarchical, the potential for conflict likely increased.
As the Ethiopian proverb goes, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” We, humans, thrive on connections with others. But what happens when we take this connection to the next level? Can we play God to each other?
In the 2017 movie Jungle, Yossi is separated from the group in a wild jungle and is left stranded. He fights to survive for weeks until he is near death. His friend Kevin risks his own life to find and rescue Yossi.
The friend’s decision to go back and save him changed his destiny. Had he not shown up, the consequences could have been dire. Animals may not have the same understanding of God as humans, nor have they progressed or prospered like us, but they still hold on to solid social connectivity, which is going missing in humans.
They have an innate sense of community and understand the importance of working together. For example, ants and bees work together in highly organized societies to collect food, care for their young, and defend their colonies.
Wolves hunt in packs and rely on each other’s unique strengths to take down prey and protect their territory. Elephants have strong family bonds and support their young and injured members. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” This implies that every community member is important and has a role to play.
Animals can teach humans humanity in many ways, from social bonds and cooperation to care and nurture, respect for the natural world, and adaptability and resilience. Fear and uncertainty are a natural part of the human experience, but it’s possible to find peace and contentment even in the face of life’s challenges as long as we have a well-supported network.
Animals also understand this concept and use various strategies and techniques for survival. Honeybees have a complex dance language when sharing information about food sources. Grazing animals warn each other about predators by intricate warning signals.
Rather than waiting for divine intervention in times of crisis, humans can learn from the animals’ approach and address the challenges they face in times of difficulty, just like humans can be loners/anti-socials/shy; interestingly, so can animals.
One example of a solitary animal is the jaguar. These large, powerful cats are known for their fierce independence, often hunting and living alone. Some more examples of loner animals include tigers, polar bears, snow leopards, pangolins, and porcupines.
In animal species, they have evolved to thrive alone. But we are humans. For A-social individuals who want to mix in society without feeling like their privacy is threatened could focus on building one-on-one relationships without feeling overwhelmed or exposed.
It’s also important for less social individuals to recognize the value of social interaction and the benefits of building connections with others. Even if a person doesn’t enjoy large social gatherings or interactions with strangers, they can still benefit from cultivating close relationships with a small group of trusted friends or family members.
Also, joining clubs or groups based on shared interests, attending social events, or volunteering in the community is recommended. Yes, it’s important to find a sense of belonging that feels authentic and connected with others without feeling trapped or obligated. Depression is not limited to humans; animals also experience it (exhibiting behaviors similar to those seen in human depression).
This includes a lack of interest in socializing, a reduced appetite, and a lack of motivation. Just like in humans, the key factors in animal coping mechanisms are also social support, touch, and physical agility. Retracing our steps from the starting point, it’s interesting to explore why early humans may have been more satisfied with life. One sometimes needs to go back to go forward.
In “The Atlantic” issue of March 1928, it was published that the happiest period in human history was under Antonines, a dynasty of Roman emperors who ruled from 96 to 192 CE. The period of their reigns is often referred to as the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, a time of relative stability and prosperity within the Roman Empire.
Well, I would like to hop in a Time Machine and explore that era. Or I could just visit Finland, which has consistently been ranked as one of the world’s happiest nations in recent years. The Finnish proverb “Yksinäisyys on voimaa vastaan” translates to “Loneliness is against strength.”
Shows that human connection is a central part of Finnish culture. Their concept of “sisu” (importance of community support and connection) or tradition of “Kahvila” or coffee culture emphasizes that. In India, sages, mystics, and saints are revered for their spiritual wisdom, and their teachings often emphasize the importance of human connections and the power of belonging.
We are all interconnected, and our actions have a ripple effect on those around us. We may not encounter challenges every day, but when we do, having a support system of people who care about us can make a significant difference.
Many in today’s world are facing severe challenges and difficulties. However, when it comes to supporting loved ones or helping in times of crisis, we should be willing to put aside our personal issues and come together to assist.
From a scientific viewpoint, soon in the near future, memory chips might be implanted in humans. We can implant qualities like kindness, empathy, and compassion, as developing these qualities within us is getting complicated.
Truly the idea of incorporating humanistic qualities in implanted memory chips is indeed a philosophical and futuristic concept. Until that happens, we are all in this together… So we play God to each other simply by not deserting in tough times and supporting each other through difficult situations.
Who knows, maybe in doing so, we’ll create a little bit of heaven on earth. After all, isn’t it said that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”
- Sunila Wali is a counseling psychologist with a passion for promoting mental health. She holds a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is currently based in Mumbai, India.
- Mail the author at sticku (at) jhu.edu
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