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Connect Four. Monday May 4, 2015

A game I have enjoyed for many years was first published by Milton Bradley in 1974: Connect Four. It did what it said on the tin - your mission, should you have decided to accept it, was to connect four peices. The game still brings me pleasure.

What a great lesson for life! The very architecture of your neural net is all about connections. So too, when seeking to live and enjoy a life to the full on this pearl of a Planet. It seems success comes down to the quantity and quality of our connections.

Yesterday, I had one of those enchanting moments one can have in the presence of an enthusiast. John is a model railway enthusiast specialising in the development of the Meccano-Hornby story. With passion, he showed me a very modest truck from his layout. The joy of this particular truck was hidden underneath. John revealed the secret with obvious relish. This truck had one kind of connection at one end, and another at the other! Why was this significant? Well with one such truck, John could harness the power of two chapters in model railway history. One connection linked to the earlier Hornby rolling stock, the other to the later Triang version. With one simple innovation, past and present were connected.

This got me thinking about the importance of being a Connector. If part of success in life is about making the right connections, surely one of the greatest joys is connecting not just with others but on behalf of others. I could happily say, this is my chief joy at this time in my life. I now know a lot of people - I've been on Planet long enough to build a phenomenal network. But this network is not for me, it's for others, it's for you. Nowadays, when I meet someone new, my neural net is naturally making connections with other people in my neural database without having to think about it. I live to connect!

Now here's the important part. If this connecting is for mere financial profit, your connections will rightfully see through this and reject your best efforts. We are not islands. We need each other. And it would be really nice to connect with one another without having to use a Toll-Bridge, wouldn't it? In this Connection Economy, not everything has to be about profit - there are other currencies worth investing in.

So, my encouragement to you today is to "Connect Four" - and connect for no profit or self-interest. Find four people today whose life could be enhanced if they connected with someone you know, and be that bridge-builder for them. Connect for the simple pleasure of connecting!

If the Universe works, your good work will come back to you a hundred-fold, but never, ever engage in this good work with any thought of return. It's simply good for you to connect others. In fact, it's good for all of us.

Now for the serious thought. In some senses the chemistry of depression is also about connections. Patterns of thought in our minds and patterns of chemicals in our brains and bodies make connections that produce results. We often seek to influence these connections with psychology and pharmacology. My suggestion today is that we play a deliberate, active role in setting up some new connections that will be of benefit to others. I believe that, in this process, we will find it good medicine for ourselves. That's not why we'll do it, but I believe it will the result. Let's try and see, shall we?

A Moodscope member.

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Hopeful One Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 6:36am

Hi Lex- just brilliant! To my mind what you describe has so many features one finds in Buddist thinking. I might add that I am not a practicing Buddist but a ' lurker ' who enjoys it for the insights it gives me when I do my ' connections'

Sally Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 6:47am

I love Connect Four!
And I love your post, Lex. Amazingly, you have succeeded in putting into words what I feel passionately but couldn't formulate as well as you have. It is a staggering piece of writing, and I enjoyed the analogies about Connect Four, John and his model railway and your thoughts about being a Connector. It is so very positive a piece of writing, and so full. I will store and keep referring to it, - especially when I am feeling less than inclined to connect! Because deep down, I know that you have hit the nail on the head and that your idea is the right one. If I think back to my last period of depression in early late Winter/ early spring, it is the lack of connecting to others/ being able to connect to others that stands out: maybe the connectors could actually be a hobby ( not model railways, not me!) but something engrossing where you would have an artificial connector, and therefore make a connection to other human beings, the whole thing making you sane. Worth a try! Thank you Lex, this post has certainly hit the spot this morning for me! Brilliant!

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:26am

Hi Sally, that's a brilliant idea (and thanks for the MASSIVE encouragement!) I know I don't want to connect with people when I'm low... but I do want to connect with some activity - even as a distraction. Now, if that hobby was to come with people... what a bonus! Have a great day, L'xx

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:28am

Hi Hopeful... so you're a Lurking Buddhist! My comfort is that I really look like Buddha... you know the one... the Laughing One!

Sally Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:34am

Thanks, Lex. Good to have feedback. Sometimes you write something...and wonder if it's going to be understood! Especially when you suffer from low self esteem( as I do..)
Much appreciated. Xx

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:44am

I really understand that, Sally. I'm responding from the control room of our Community Radio Station (Hope FM in Bournemouth, UK), where I host the Monday and Tuesday Breakfast Shows (How's that for a plug? Ha ha!) Anyway, my point is that I sometimes wonder if anyone is listening... and then I get a Facebook message or a call that reassures me that the show was good for that person... that's enough to keep me going... and your idea is truly brilliant!

DawnC.Ritchie Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 9:25am

Connecting people seems daunting to me, but to have a small gathering would work for me, a breakfast or a curry at home with your favourite friends from different circles. It was amazing when I did that a number of years ago. I felt like the most blessed person, all my beasties in one room! :D I've recently been accepted into a group of ladies who meet each month or so for food and chat. It's so lovely.

Julia Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 10:12am

That sounds nice Dawn. xx

Julia Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 10:14am

Hi DJ Lex. Funny, I was thinking first thing this morning how I needed to connect my brain to different thought patterns otherwise today would turn out tres negative

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 11:02am

Really appreciate this Lex - especially the plug for Hope FM!

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 11:22am

Hi Lex, apart from being a wonderful piece of writing, your blog strikes me as profound. You've honed in on a deep truth. I've been thinking a lot over recent years about 'home' and where that is. Being a Canadian who has lived in the UK for a very long time now, i find myself longing for 'home' but i don't know where that is anymore. I know this must sound irrelevant to your blog, but reading your words brought a distinct sense of 'home'. You've made me realize that I must start thinking about 'what' that is, rather than 'where'. I hope that makes sense. susan xx

C A Morgan Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 11:43am

Hi Lex, connections and what we do with them has been on my mind recently particularly as I do some part time voluntary and paid work in healthcare.

My motivation for both is to benefit others driven by some of my own experiences in dealing with physical and mental health challenges. It is good to hear when professionals and clinicians really listen and work hard from the same motivation which keeps me going even when I feel too tired or ill to carry on.

My latest Blog inspired by a poster made me really look at my connections and see which were life affirming and gaining impact for others and if anyone is interested you can find it here:

The connections here at Moodscope are great as I feel I know people, or at least an aspect of them, through their writing even though I've not met them! I love Twitter for connections and the openness of it so if anyone wants to connect with me there too I'd be happy to meet them.

On days when I'm not feeling great and can't get out I can connect on Twitter and usually feel better for it.

Happy to take your challenge and look for 4 new connections to be made!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 2:54pm

Hi Lex, Am loving Facebook for just this reason. And making connections all over the world and then connecting those connections together. So be prepared to enter the mystical world of the romance writer on Wednesday!

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:22pm

Hi Julia
I'm trusting today turned out tres jolie... if not, with whom may I seek to connect you?

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:23pm

Curry for breakfast?! When can I come? (Yes, I know you didn't mean that BUT it's a great idea... yesterday's curry, even better.

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:23pm

Ha ha, you saw what I did there, Frankie!

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:25pm

Dearest Susan
That makes perfect sense. Surely 'Home' is the place where our connections feel strongest (cf. Dawn's post above). I wonder if more tokens of your Canadian past connections would help? I'm a great believer in meaningful objects - ones I can associate with important connections.

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:30pm

That's an excellent blog, thank you for sharing! Looking forward to tweeting together too!

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 5:31pm

I cannot wait... I cannot wait... I cannot wait!!! (x100)

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:04pm

Hello Lex, you've got me thinking over your blog, I have been since I first read it early this morning. I couldn't out why I found it so challenging but now I do. I'm a connector...put me at a bus stop and I will get into conversations (both light and deep) with anyone who responds. I've had life stories from people, war stories from oldies, deep shared laughter about something daft that's happened. I connect anywhere, everywhere, frequently. This is easy, and such a pleasure! But I must be a serial solo connector. Connecting this way means I have an 'out'. I can escape, disappear. In real meaningful life I no longer like connecting because I lose my freedom. Someone calls or invites or is kind and I struggle. Maybe I'm one of those old fashioned loners (and I could kiss autocorrect right now for changing that to lovers!!!! Brilliant!!!). Anyway, you have prompted mini fireworks of thought for me. That is wonderful (and can only be a good thing), so I thank you kind sir. Love from the room above the garage x.

The Entertrainer Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 7:31pm

Oh RATG, you know you're my favourite loner/lover! If anyone loves humankind, 'tis you xx

Hopeful One Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 8:08pm

Hi Lex- then inadvertently you have stumbled on Enlightenment the Holy Grail of Buddism!

Anonymous Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 10:54pm

I'm blushing and wondering whether I should have worn my tshirt with the rip instead of the paint stain! Thank thee for connecting with mee, I bow and curtsey as I lay my Piccadilly head onto pillow. Goodnight dearest Lex, love ratg x.

Moodscope Mon, May 4th 2015 @ 11:01pm

Just wanted to say that I read each and every comment that is posted on every blog and you do make me laugh sometimes - as you have just done! I'm also always amazed at the brilliant blogs and comments that are posted. All of you are just wonderful - so creative, so good a writing, so good at helping each other. As Les would say - the EQ on here is just phenomenal. A big heartfelt thank you to everyone. Carolinex

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