What are you connected to in your life? Do you have a mental connection with your job, a hobby, or a positive pastime? Mental connections are more than just mastering a subject. They are a way to view the world as a whole.

Personal connections with other people improve your life both physically and emotionally. Human beings need to have a mentor, good friends, or other social outlets because we are social creatures who learn and grow through our interactions with others.

Making connections is a key life skill you can learn to gain a deeper understanding of the world.

Mental Connections

As a child, you were taught to make mental connections from your parents and in school. Skills like knowing how to get dressed, how to make a snack, and even how to greet someone are learned mental connections between the action and the desired result.

In school, children learn how language, math, science, and history connects them to other people and the world. But as people grow older, they sometimes stop looking for connections and accept only what they already know.

Making connections between the things you do know, and other information helps keep your brain active. It helps you improve your abilities and understanding and can help you master new skills.

Life-long learning is essential for personal growth. Making connections is a key life skill that expands your knowledge and understanding.

You may have heard the phrase, “There is always something new to learn.” As an adult, you can build the skill of making connections by first accepting that you will make mistakes.

Trying something new can lead to errors, but you can learn from your mistakes and improve your knowledge. If you don’t try, you won’t learn. Develop the habit of exploring new ideas, information, and ways to do things.

Play “What If?” in your mind and ask yourself questions that help you explore. What if you took a new route to work, tried a new spice, or read a story about something you aren’t familiar with right now? What could you learn by making new connections to what you already know?

Personal Connections

Psychologist Susan Pinker studied a group of people over 100 years old. She found that the face-to-face connections they had with others had helped increase their lifespans. The more people these elders knew and connected with, the longer their lives were.

Being with other people releases the chemical oxytocin, which helps increase humans’ level of trust and decreases stress. Personal connections also release dopamine, a chemical that makes people feel good.

The International Journal of Medicine completed a study showing that college students who were under stress from classes and exams felt less depressed if they had strong social connections and support.

Psychologists believe people with strong personal connections are happier because the connections fulfill the human need for social interaction and improve peoples’ outlook and mindset.

Making personal connections is a skill you can learn. The steps for turning a casual connection into a strong personal connection include:

  • Make Eye Contact
  • Smile
  • Use the Person’s Name
  • Use the Time Wisely
  • Making Helping Others Your Goal
  • Accept Help in Return
  • Ask Questions
  • Follow up

Making eye contact and using a person’s name shows them that you want to make a connection. Smiling is a way to show friendliness and openness. You want to approach people with a positive, outgoing attitude so they see your commitment to making a connection with them.

Don’t waste other people’s time. When you meet someone, ask them if they have time to talk. If you schedule an appointment or a visit with them, focus on them during that time, not on your cell phone or other distractions.

Make helping others your goal. You can build strong connections with people who can benefit from your knowledge and skills. 

Show other people you understand their concerns and help them learn ways to manage life’s challenges. Invest in them as people with their individual interests and concerns. Learn to accept help from others, too. Your connections grow stronger when others help you achieve your goals.

If you don’t know something, ask. Use the time you spend with others to learn more about them and their interests. And follow up on the time you spend with people by sending a thank you note, a text, or by planning another meeting.

Making connections is a key life skill that improved your thinking, knowledge, and support from others.

You can develop your skill at making connections mentally and personally by expanding your thinking and taking the time to get to know other people.