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Only Connect

"only connect." E.M. Forster I can't stop thinking about this article about addiction.

I spent a lot of my life thinking I'd be happiest alone.  My dream was to build a cabin deep in a forest and hide from everyone for as long as I could.

But the older, and hopefully, wiser I grow, I realize how crucial community is to happiness.

I now know that my happiest moments are shared with others.  I know how good I feel when I am in our little French village and no one is a stranger.  I know that being back in Vancouver and living with family, as well as working in a supportive workplace, has done wonders for my well being.

I would be lost without the people who love me.

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I never judge addiction.  Most of us have experienced some form of it - with food, drugs, alcohol, consumerism or sex.

I know what it's like to binge on food or have a few too many drinks because I feel disconnected from myself and those around me.  I can only imagine how a true addict must feel.

The article explains that addiction may have less to do with a chemical hook and more to do with a disconnect.  It goes into detail about an experiment using rats and drugged water.  Rats that were isolated became easily addicted, while those who were given good lives and a community of others mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died, and while all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

Soldiers in the Vietnam War proved the same thing.  Apparently many soldiers were addicted to heroin while there, but 95% simply stopped upon returning home.  They were back with their family and loved ones, so they didn't want the drug anymore.

So is the rat to blame, or the cage?

I think a lot about the addicts of East Vancouver.  While they have their community, many are very much alone and isolated from the rest of society.  Many struggle with mental illness and their environment also revolves around addiction.  What would happen if we reconnected them to their own feelings and the wider society?  What if we addressed their mental conditions?

I think about all forms of addiction and those struggling with it.  I think about health and happiness as a whole, and how we need to stop eating this idea of success that is starving us from real connection.

And then I think of my own future and well being.  I want connection.  As much as possible.  I want nights like last Sunday, spending the evening cooking with people I love.  I want to tell my friends and family that I love them.  I want to spend my life with the one who makes my heart beat and continue to build our community and connections together.

How do you connect?

When do you feel disconnected?

What can you to today to connect with others?

 

GeneralGillian Young