Opportunities to connect, to respect, to cooperate, every day

Two ships cooperating at sea. Rules based, safety first, good outcome.

It is quite wonderful to live by the ocean near a shipping channel and observe the various workhorses of the world’s seas sail on by. Slowly, methodically, impressively, powerfully, and safely. So I was fascinated further to watch two such ships pass each other, and witness the care they both deployed to transition without incident.

It seemed to me the casual observer that there was a clear and respectful communication prevailing, with both exercising mutual respect and desire to pass effectively, calmly and successfully. At a safe but relatively close distance in a narrow shipping channel, passing in opposite directions on parallel paths. There seemed to be a beautiful moment of mutual care for the other, knowing that in so doing, they were protecting their own best interests too. Sadly, a diametrically opposed approach we often see from our politicians, especially those commanding military forces keen to maintain or project their power.

But I digress! What it reminded me of, assuming we venture out into our community each day, are the many daily opportunities we have, to connect, to respect and to cooperate. To first acknowledge another perceptually, to honour their rights as much as our own, and so execute actions and behaviour so that both of ‘our ships’ pass safely and unhindered. That can be on the road, on a busy city street walking, or sharing a path on a scenic walk with a multitude of tourists. And in many other situations also.

We know that when humans feel safe and connect mentally, our mirror neurons associated with empathy for another are activated. In these moments, our respective social brains activate neural pathways associated with prosocial behaviour, and a channel for cooperation can be established. When it does, there can be a release of the hormone oxytocin, a chemical that helps to consolidate human bonding. To provide the glue to create a positive relationship, sometimes only for a moment. In the event that same human perceives such a human experience to be pleasant, a small dose of the pleasure hormone dopamine will be released too. In these simple ways, every day, and with every cooperative human interaction, we can build or compound our well-being.

There are opportunities every day, to connect, to respect and to cooperate. Carpe diem (seize the day) I would encourage, else we just become ‘ships in the night’ and xenophobia grows. Build community, and community spirit, every day, in every way.

What have you got to lose, other than your well-being? And the integrity and health of your community? Makes sense to me. Perhaps you can make it possible for others too? I can guarantee you will feel good when you do, and that is your reward.

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