You wouldn’t think there was much you could learn about life from a Hall & Oates song.

Yet there’s a great reminder in the middle of their old song “Out of Touch”:

We’re soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Take a look around.

Take a moment right now and do that. Look around at our society, our culture, our world. Does it feel soulful?

Or does it make you feel a tad like Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, about whom Edith Wharton writes: She hardly knew what she had been seeking…she was only aware of a vague sense of failure, of an inner isolation deeper than the loneliness about her.

As the kids would say, “Do you feel me here?”

Is there a sense of isolation or lack of depth in our society that lingers like a dark cloud, deeply affecting what is otherwise often a fantastically brilliant blue sky?

What is absent? Perhaps there is an important component that, when missing, intensifies this sensation of danger or risk we feel today in what is (statistically) the safest world in our recorded history. Perhaps there is a disconnection that turns up the volume on the societal unease until it drowns out the inherent beauty.

And maybe that’s soul.

What is Soul and Why Does It Matter?

Maybe when soul is missing, so, too, is a component of our steadiness, which then gives us an increasing feeling of unsure feet on a shifting landscape. Maybe soul is that central ground where we find that surety, that sail that tacks us safe in the most tumultuous of storms. And maybe this why we crave it so much, even if we are not religious but spiritual, or even identify as non-spiritual. (Labels, after all, really have nothing to do with soul.)

But what is soul? Can we name it?

The poet David Whyte says, “By definition, soul evades the cage of definition. It is the indefinable essence of a person’s spirit and being. It can never be touched and yet the merest hint of its absence causes immediate distress.”

The absence causes immediate distress. Hmm. Sounds like we’re getting closer.

So, if we know we are in distress and we want to find more soul in our lives, what do we do? How do we find it?

Some people would point to religion. (This was, after all, how previous generations looked for soul—in the church, the synagogue, the mosque, etc.) But what if you’re not interested in religion, but you’re interested in soul?

Good news! There are ways to be spiritual that don’t involve religion. (You probably already knew that, but it helps to be reminded, right?) And one basic, rewarding way to reach inside your spiritual self, to plunge a bit deeper into who you are and why you are, to reach into the depths of what it is to be human, is so surprisingly simple and yet so essential to our happiness:

Connect.

Why Does Connection Matter?

Connection to other human beings is the secret sauce of life. It’s the glue on the model, the missing piece to the puzzle, the stickiness that not only helps us stick to others but that helps us stick to ourselves. And in pursuing connection, we can often find more of that indefinable quality of soul.

Because connection is how we move from human bodies to human beings.

In connection we find answers about others, but we also find answers about ourselves. Connection helps us become more than a collection of people; connection helps us become a true community.

Connection to other human beings is so important that it helps us to live longer and live happier lives. Though that’s easy to forget when we love and value our independence.

But don’t forget it, especially if you’re feeling a tad aloof or adrift, despite all the wonderful parts of your life. Find that connection wherever you can, and work to foster it. You might find connection in:

  • the family you were born into
  • the family you created
  • the community in which you live
  • your work
  • your gym or sports team
  • your yoga practice or meditation group
  • your volunteer work
  • or in learning centers of connection and immersion like 1440 Multiversity.

And, in doing so, you may be reminded that connection and soul are linked in the most wonderful invisible chain that we can never photograph but only feel.

Luckily, feeling is enough. Oh, it’s more than enough.

As Anne Lamott reminds us in Hallelujah Anyway, “The only thing that helps, that has ever made [life] all sort of doable, is a deep connection with a couple of people.” And, in the words of Cheryl Strayed: “You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth.”

So, go love people back. Find those deep connections where you can and nurture them. Build them. Treasure them. Love them. Because they can be so important to soul.

And, like Hall & Oates reminds us:

We’re soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Take a look around.