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Vivek H. Murthy

The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

4.5 (277 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Together by Vivek H. Murthy is a guide that explores the importance of human connection in a digital age. It provides evidence-based strategies to help readers foster deeper relationships and build more compassionate communities.

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    Loneliness is about more than just being alone, and it’s a larger problem than you might think.

    When Vivek Murthy, the author, was appointed the 19th surgeon general of the United States, he had some clear ideas about what he wanted to tackle: mental health , obesity , and the opioid crisis.

    But he also wanted to understand people’s own priorities. So after his appointment, he traveled across the United States on a listening tour. And his conversations showed that issues like obesity and the opioid crisis were indeed priorities, but something else came up time and again. From town halls in Alabama to community meetings in North Carolina, the subject of loneliness cropped up almost every time. 

    It became clear to Murthy that in society today loneliness is a real problem.

    The key message here is: Loneliness is about more than just being alone, and it’s a larger problem than you might think.

    One cold Oklahoma morning, Murthy was listening to Sam and Sheila, a couple who’d lost their son to opioids. They explained that the pain they felt at his death was made even worse by loneliness. All through their lives they’d been part of a community, but now their neighbors ignored them. Assuming Sam and Sheila would be ashamed of how their son had died, nobody stopped by.

    On another day, in Los Angeles, a successful executive admitted that he had just spent his birthday alone. The intensity of his work schedule had led him to lose touch with friends.

    Murthy’s findings are anecdotal, but they’re supported by science. Loneliness is widespread. According to a 2018 study by the US organization AARP – which advocates for people as they age – 22 percent of American adults report being socially isolated, either often or always. This is the case all over the world. A quarter of Australian adults report loneliness, while in Japan more than a million adults meet the official definition of hikikomori, or social recluses.

    So what exactly is loneliness? Well, it’s not just being alone; it’s the sense that you’re lacking the connections you need.

    Researchers have identified three clear strands: Intimate loneliness is the longing for a partner with whom you share a deep bond. Social loneliness is the need for quality friendships. Finally, collective loneliness is the yearning for a community or network of like-minded people.

    We need all three types of connection to thrive. And as we’ll see in the next blink, if you lack one or more, it can be painful – to the extent of seriously harming your health.

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    What is Together about?

    Together (2020) is a powerful treatise on the impact of loneliness and the benefits of human connection. Drawing on scientific research and personal stories, it explores the high cost of loneliness, and considers how individuals, societies, and governments can tackle the problem by promoting connection.

    Together Review

    Together (2021) by Vivek H. Murthy explores the power of human connection and why it is crucial for both our personal well-being and the health of our society. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With emotionally resonant stories and scientific research, it highlights the importance of strong relationships in our lives.
    • By providing practical tips on fostering meaningful connections, the book empowers readers to cultivate deeper relationships.
    • It offers a compelling argument for the positive impact of social connection on our mental and physical health, leaving readers with a renewed appreciation for the power of togetherness.

    Who should read Together?

    • Lost souls in search of more human connection
    • Those who feel like modern life makes friendship harder
    • People interested in the psychology of loneliness

    About the Author

    Vivek H. Murthy, MD, was appointed the 19th surgeon general of the United States by Barack Obama. He held the position – the leading public health role in the United States – for three years. The son of Indian immigrants, Murthy has had a long career as a public health physician and advocate.

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    Together FAQs 

    What is the main message of Together?

    The main message of Together is the importance of human connection and building strong relationships.

    How long does it take to read Together?

    The reading time for Together varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Together a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Together is worth reading for its insightful take on the power of social connections and the impact they have on our well-being.

    Who is the author of Together?

    The author of Together is Vivek H. Murthy.

    What to read after Together?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Together, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
    • Weird by Olga Khazan
    • A Biography of Loneliness by Fay Bound Alberti
    • Click by Rom and Ori Brafman
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
    • Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg
    • Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
    • Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson