Cultivating Connections

Christina Staff

By Christina Staff, Healthy Planet Staff Writer

What does it mean to cultivate connections, and how do we do that? Let’s start with the word cultivate. The leading definition as outlined by Dictionary.com: cultivate (verb), is to prepare and work on (land) in order to raise crops. Cultivate by another definition: to seek to promote or foster (friendship, love, etc.). What if we combined the two? Winter gives way to spring in less than three weeks, and we will soon begin seeing area farmers preparing fields for the 2023 crop. What if we were to focus attention on planting seeds of our own; ones that will cultivate more fulfilling relationships and connections?

As humans we’re wired for connection. Perhaps one of your struggles has been finding a social circle in which you feel seen and acknowledged. Maybe you’re an introvert hoping to step out of your comfortable shell and connect with like-minded people to share interests and hobbies. Could be you’re seeking to form a stronger bond with a significant other or friend. Regardless of how it looks…

Let us pause for a moment to consider the time and attention farmers invest into what they can only hope will be a bountiful harvest. What’s the first step? We need to work the soil in preparation. Fostering an authentic human connection requires us to be willing to show up as our true selves, and to be… vulnerable. That’s scary, I know, but the exchange of vulnerability creates trust, whereas staying guarded denies others the opportunity to genuinely see us. We’re instantly setting them up for failure in a soil void of nutrients. No seeds can be planted; no connections cultivated, and we’re left still feeling isolated and lonely. By preparing our soil, we’re working toward being open to receiving connection.

Now, plant the seeds. You’ve heard of the Golden Rule: the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. We often show love based on how we want to receive love, but the connection may be missed because we had our personal likes in mind and not those of whom we were trying to nurture. The Platinum Rule instead says we should do for others as THEY would do for themselves. Know what is going to grow best in their soil. Plant seeds of effort and appreciation based on their own likes.

Similar to cultivating plants and crops, connections grow best when conditions are favorable. Whether platonic or romantic, they require meaningful care and a nurturing hand. Can it be risky? Yes. Have unpredictable outcomes? Sure. But, don’t stop when the weather gets stormy. Remember, seeds need rain to grow. Be consistent in your efforts and make them a priority. Work the soil; plant those seeds, and have faith those meaningful connections will become this year’s bountiful harvest.