Vivek H. Murthy, MD
Humans are social creatures: In this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th surgeon general of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health, but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society. But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together. The lessons in Together have immediate relevance and application. These four key strategies will help us not only to weather this crisis, but also to heal our social world far into the future. Spend time each day with those you love. Devote at least 15 minutes each day to connecting with those you most care about. Focus on each other. Forget about multitasking and give the other person the gift of your full attention, making eye contact, if possible, and genuinely listening. Embrace solitude. The first step toward building stronger connections with others is to build a stronger connection with oneself. Meditation, prayer, art, music, and time spent outdoors can all be sources of solitary comfort and joy. Help and be helped. Service is a form of human connection that reminds us of our value and purpose in life. Checking on a neighbor, seeking advice, even just offering a smile to a stranger six feet away, all can make us stronger.
About the Author
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States from December 15, 2014 to April 21, 2017. As America’s Doctor, Dr. Murthy created initiatives to tackle our country’s most urgent public health issues. In 2017, Dr. Murthy focused his attention on chronic stress and isolation as prevalent problems that have profound implications for health, productivity, and happiness. Partnering with the Veterans Health Administration, he brought together leading thinkers, researchers, and practitioners to identify scientifically proven ways we can cultivate emotional well-being and fitness to help us thrive among the most challenging circumstances. In addition to his role as America’s Doctor, as the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations in over 800 locations domestically and abroad. He worked with thousands of Commissioned Corps officers to strengthen the Corps and protect the nation from Ebola and Zika and to respond to the Flint water crisis, major hurricanes, and frequent health care shortages in rural communities. Dr. Murthy’s commitment to medicine and health began early in life. The son of immigrants from India, he discovered the art of healing watching his parents - Hallegere and Myetriae Murthy - treat patients like family in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida. Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his M.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Yale. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and later joined Harvard Medical School as faculty in internal medicine. Dr. Murthy resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Dr. Alice Chen, and their two young children.