Baya Voce was just a young woman in her twenties who thought popularity and and attention equalled connection. She craved it. So it wasn’t surprising that she took it when she got the opportunity to be on MTV’s reality TV show: The Real World. Baya describes it as one of the loneliest times of her life. She was in a house surrounded by people and film crews with scores of viewers watching at home. And she felt alone.
Baya Voce tells us: “Loneliness is an emotional state that we have when we feel disconnected. But our need for connection is engrained in our DNA. Loneliness is a signal just like fight or flight that something isn’t right.” One in five people suffer from loneliness.
This spurred Baya’s work, creating her project: The Art of Connection. Baya found, “We’re spending more time online and less time making meaningful in-person connections. So when emotional storms hit-- things like losing a job or going through a divorce, or a death, instead of leaning in toward our communities, we’ve learned to suffer alone.”
This is an important topic for students who have flocked to the customized world of online schooling. Many wonder if their socialization will suffer by turning to online education. What Baya’s research tells us is that socialization built from meaningful, deep connection is actually simply the process of setting up what she calls a “ritual anchor of connection.”
First off, it is important to delineate connection from attention. Attention is what Baya craved, but it never actually filled her loneliness, because it didn’t create connection. What actually creates connection? Baya tells us: “In order to feel connected, we need to feel seen, heard, and valued.”
Around the world, there are things called Blue Zones. Blue Zones are pockets of people who live the longest, and report the highest levels of happiness. The one thing that they all have in common is that they prioritize connection. They have rituals to connect with each other, whether through praying together, walking together, or cultivating strong family relationships over the dinner table. Baya calls these Blue Zones prime examples of “Anchors of Connection.” So how do we all get that? Baya’s answer is rituals: “Ritual is repeated action plus intention.”
It may seem silly, but essentially, if we want connection, we need to plan for it, prioritize it, and make sure we don’t go a day without it. We need to ask ourselves how we can have a deep, meaningful connection today, and stay curious to exploring new avenues of socialization. It can be found in the park, through a hobby, or on the couch curled up with some popcorn and our favorite friend.
“Connection isn’t created by the things we go get. Connection is created by the things we go back to.”
What do you want your ritual anchor of connection to look like?