Wednesday, April 17, 2024

I’m fortunate that my role provides me the opportunity to connect with so many of the people who are a part of our great university. Students, staff, parents, patients, faculty, visitors, alumni – they create the fabric of our campus community. The mission of a big public university like ours can seem impersonal at times. I find connecting with people and hearing their stories helps ground my work and reminds me that what we do here matters.  

Social connections keep me engaged and interested at work, but they’re not always easy to make. Our lives are busy and our calendars are full. Making time to connect and listen requires an intentional approach for me. I find myself in a much more positive frame of mind when I’m able to appreciate the people I see throughout my day.  

 One of the tools I’ve used to incorporate daily action is based on a program the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, launched called the 5 for 5 Connection Challenge. The challenge was to take five actions for five days in a row to better connect with people in our lives. The framework is a simple, straightforward way to incorporate action into my day. Socials skills are a skill set like any other and, after the pandemic years, I was a bit rusty. Throughout my day, I try to be mindful about expressing gratitude, offering support, or asking for help.

1. Express gratitude. Take a minute to recognize the positive in your dayand acknowledge those moments. Share a compliment. Pass along good news.  

2. Give support. Be present for another’s challenges. Practice active listening. Pay it forward when others have been there for you.  

3. Build connection. This can be as simple as smiling and saying hello.  Greet your colleagues, stop for a chat with a neighbor in the driveway.

4. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to share your challenges and questions. Give the people in your life the opportunity to be a support for you. Reciprocity is a gift for both of you.  

Finding small ways to incorporate meaningful connection varies for each of us. We know that social connections are a critical part of well-being and long-term happiness. Simple actions like these can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Finding ways to be present and recognizing the opportunities to connect helps to make my days more positive and meaningful.  

More information on healthy connections, mindfulness, and the 5 for 5 Connection Challenge can be found here:


Cover image by Priscilla Du Preez.