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My guest on today’s conversation is Vivek Murthy. Vivek was the US Surgeon General under the Obama administration and is now author of the fantastic book, Together, about the healing power of human connection. And connect is exactly what Vivek and I did during this conversation in a really deep and profound way. During this conversation, we talk about what authenticity really means and how powerful it is to be truly vulnerable.
We also talk about the consequences of this pandemic causing a social recession as well as an economic recession and how lockdown is making an already chronic problem of loneliness much worse. But this conversation is about hope and optimism – could the outcome of our separation in fact be a social revival? Are we realising more than ever before that we need to put people first?
When he was in office, Vivek realised that the thread running through so many social and health problems, touching people of all ages, was loneliness. As doctors, we share the conviction that lack of connections is a major factor in many modern health conditions. We discuss how loneliness can manifest as irritability, anger, depression and disturbed sleep. It can also be behind ailments from anxiety to addiction and even obesity. And, of course, in the current pandemic, its effects are amplified.
So, could it be time for us to take stock of how much we’ve missed our family, friends, even strangers – and decide how we want those relationships to be going forwards? Vivek believes we need to make an explicit commitment to other people – reaching out to others and giving our undistracted time when we do. Service, he says, is a powerful antidote to loneliness – it’s you adding value to the world.
Vivek’s guiding principle is to ‘put people first’ in society, as well as in our individual lives and to let love and compassion be our path out of loneliness and suffering. It’s really hard to disagree with this when you hear this conversation, and I hope you find it as meaningful as I did.
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Watch the video version of this interview in full below.
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