The ultimate manifestation of applied wisdom is conscious connection. Connection to people. Connection to environments. Connection to activity. Connection to anything beyond the self.
Connection, in terms of this post, means to be consistently and meaningfully interactive with someone or something, particularly when there’s some type of significant personal value that’s being engaged. Closely associated words with ‘connected’ are: integrated, healthily-attached, pro-social, and bonded. All of these words involve connectedness and are clinically associated with psychological health and optimal human functioning.
Connection is the foundation of meaningful experience.
When you’re “disconnected”, you might experience significantly less challenges and difficulties and discomforts in life, and you may even be engaging various things that are stimulating, but you’re not really experiencing what you want to be experiencing in life when you’re not really connected to anyone or anything. When disconnected, your thoughts essentially become the basis of reality, and your risk of self-absorption and subsequent self-loathing and bitterness increases substantially.
Now this doesn’t mean you should never disconnect, as in never take time for yourself. We all need alone time. We all need to periodically “unplug” and activate some degree of introspection and reflection. The point is that even when we are temporarily disconnected or purposefully disengaged, we still need to remain generally connected.
When you’re generally connected to other people and to meaningful environments or activities, you are experiencing real life.
Disconnection, often manifested as isolation, perpetuates a wasted existence. Extended isolation is generally unwise. Connection leads to bonds, and bonds create deep satisfaction and ultimately lead to well-being and happiness.
Bonds signify healthy attachment and genuine engagement. In this sense of being “bonded”, a person considers another person or group (or environment or activity) as important as they consider that person. In other words, there is a mutuality wherein two or more people or things effectively need each other in order for an experience to have significant function, purpose, or meaning.
Staying consciously connected, even when it feels like you want or need to isolate, is the hallmark of applied wisdom. Connection is the best way to not feel regret in the long term. The more you disconnect, the more you increase your potential for regret, shame, or guilt, thus the more you will suffer.
You can almost always identify value in any given experience that involves interacting with people or engaging activities or environments. Even negative experiences while consciously connected to them are meaningful and potentially beneficial.
If you are consistently conscious of the value of connection, you are doing yourself a great service — you will be able to look back and think, “I intentionally lived my life connected. I deliberately decided to connect to others and experiences, because I know that connectedness is ultimately where real meaning and joy are born“…
And that’s the key to consciously engaging in connection and trusting in its inherent value: although you may not want to interact or engage, if you decide to consciously connect yourself to experiences then at some point you will deeply understand that life is so much better when ‘connected’, and thus you will continue to embrace connected experiences despite any discomfort and despite any lingering urge to disconnect. It takes wisdom to know this, and even more wisdom to apply this.