Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tip #41: Connect and learn from others

I learned recently that humans have been able to progress much more than other species because of something termed "cumulative culture" which enables us to build better and bigger things. This accumulation is generated because we are capable to share and learn from each other, and create an end product that no one alone could have devised. In a curious experiment, a group of children (three and four year old) were compared to chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys. They all had to find the solution to a puzzle box. The children were the only ones who were able to solve the puzzle, and the scientists observed that this was because they cooperated, they learned from each other and even shared their rewards. The animals never shared or cooperated and, thus, could not find the solution.

I also read that in our brains we have "mirror neurons," which help us read other peoples feelings and actions. Some scientists also think these neurons are responsible not only for empathy, but maybe also for language. In any case, it seems clear that being connected to others is an essential part of being human.

And I'm telling you all this because of my own experience with groups. If any one reading this is diagnosed with any type of disease, I really encourage you to look both online and offline for groups of people with similar circumstances. I have already mentioned my group "Metastatic Breast Cancer Babes," but I just need to keep saying how much I have learned and still learn from them. It is not just "support," which they also have provided. Through them I have learned about many of the tips I talk about in here. It would have been impossible for me to research everything I have learned with them. Not only that. It is like the children in the experiment. In the group you even learn things you didn't know you had to learn, but this is because the ladies are always sharing and willing to help. It is the same with my yoga for cancer patients group (my offline group).

These people have become my friends now, of course, but I think your regular friends also have an incredible important role in your life, but in a different way. We do need both. We are hard-wired for connection. We cannot do it alone. The more the merrier. And that's why I love you all and thank you all, because I truly need you all.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc