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What do worker bees, living in Hulbert St, Fremantle and cancer survivors at a group meeting have in common?

They are all connected by community.

At the TEDx Perth event last Saturday, Mat Welch, Shani Graham and Professor David Joske were some of the great speakers
who talked about connection, happiness and wellbeing.

Mat spoke about the lives of honeybees and how their inter-relatedness is essential to the success of bee society. Shani shared her personal story about how she instigated sustainable community in the street in which she lives, and how social connectivity has since spread rapidly like the ripples on a pond.

David shared some of the lessons he has learned from his patients who have cancer, and his desire to see humanity restored to a much higher level in the practice of medicine.

The premise in these talks and in many of the others on that day was simple:

As humans we are wired to socially connect with others.

Social cognitive neuroscience. Yes, it’s a mouthful and will definitely impress your friends when you introduce it into your next conversation. There are some amazing people who work in this area of brain research, and my one all time favourite social cognitive neuroscientist on the planet, is one Professor Matthew Lieberman.

Matt Lieberman has a gift. Not only is he an extremely intelligent person with an amazing brain, he has devoted over 15 years into the study of social cognitive neuroscience.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Matt speak and I wanted to share with you his TEDx talk where he talks about our social brain and it’s associated superpowers.


He has also just published a book called Social: Why our brains are wired to connect.

People matter. Our ability to connect with each other matters.

It’s why in all of our relationships, knowing how to successfully engage with others, relate to others, empathise with others allows us to be compassionate, collaborative and community focused.

Mother Theresa once said, “Loneliness is the greatest of human suffering”.

Social pain, whether it is a broken heart, being on the receiving end of cyber-bullying or being overlooked for a promotion, is real pain and pain that is often deeper and longer lasting than physical pain. We ignore it at our peril.

Where businesses and organisations struggle with increasing levels of disengagement or lack of motivation, the solution lies less in offering financial incentives and bonuses and far more in ensuring a person feels respected, valued and part of the team.

Knowing how to reduce social pain, so as to enhance relationships, effective
communication and leadership is not only desirable, it is eminently possible.

Your plastic brain is capable of rewiring itself in response to our ever-changing environment. The Brain Change program examines our social brain, why we find change so difficult and how to incorporate social intelligence to promote a higher level of contribution, wellbeing and

Which would you rather have?

An extra $100 in your pocket or feeling acknowledged and respected for the work and effort you have put into a particular project?

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

One Comment

  • Sharon Cooke says:

    Thanks for your article Jenny. So good to hear you and Matt Lieberman honouring the social dimension in humans – the very thing that makes us human beings, not just human ‘doings’. With adults its about placing value in something already there – tapping into our capacity to create connection and community. But the question that rests heavy on my heart is; what about the developing brain in the infant? What is the ‘kryptonite effect’ as Matt says, that occurs when the social brain of the infant is not valued by the parent or care-giver? Advances in technology have allowed us to take a peek into the workings of the brain, and there is hard evidence to prove that warm and responsive parent-child interaction during the first 3 years acts like a solid foundation on which more complex brain functioning is built. A strong connection with a Mum, Dad or Care-giver contributes to a child’s ability to make sense of their world, learn from it and develop into healthy adults – with good physical, social and emotional health. With 190 billion per annum spent in Australia on treatment of mental health issues and plenty more spent on physical health complaints, it makes sense to ditch the band-aids and invest in the early years of childhood, connecting with the social brain of the child. Lets love our kids. Now I can do that!

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