Written by Ellen Ryan

Individually, we are one drop.
Together, we are an ocean.
~ R. Satoro

Let’s begin the New Year by reflecting on the healing power of social connections.

It is easy to be paralyzed by the challenges facing Canada and the world at the beginning of 2022. I have been inspired by two writers to focus on our innate skill in creating life-giving social relationships and supporting healthy aging through community.


Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former US surgeon general (chief public health physician), writes about the Loneliness pandemic affecting young and old across North America. Loneliness maims and it kills. Murthy outlines societal strategies to promote community but focuses on how we as individuals can promote our own health as well as heal our social world.

Four Strategies to build healing connections:      

  1. Spend time each day with those you love. Connect in person where possible, but also by phone and online.
  2. Focus on each other. Practice wholehearted, full-attention listening.
  3. Embrace solitude. Build your reserves through meditation, prayer, outdoor walks, music, journaling and art.
  4. Help and be helped. Service, a form of human connection, maintains a sense of purpose and belonging.  In aging, we learn to be helped and see it as a way of weaving community.


Celebrated author Mark Nepo argues that we humans can rebuild a sense of community in North America by realizing we are More Together Than Alone. 

Connected to a brief video, this book offers practice guidelines to help people tell and listen to stories in small groups as a strategy to weave a tapestry to support the growth of community over individual isolation and otherness.

As Wendell Berry says, “Community exists only when people know each other’s stories.”

So, let’s build hope and resilience among all generations by fostering social connections which contribute to a sense of belonging and community.