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Friends of Six Senses with Amy Baglan: Bringing the Social into Wellness

MeetMindful.com and Fabriq.com Founder, Amy Baglan, talks with Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjurstam on some new ways to use technology to cultivate social wellness, the next frontier of health and wellness.

(lightly edited for clarity)

Anna: You had founded MeetMindful.com, the dating app, as a way to use technology to help people connect. How did that differ from other dating apps?

Amy: The only option you had if you were a wellness and spiritually oriented person was to tick a box on Match.com that said, “spiritual but not religious”. I was running an events company at the time and saw how people struggled with finding people to date. We created MeetMindful as an alternative to all that because we wanted to create a pre-vetted community with similar value sets because finding ways to connect with like-minded people is so important.

Anna: Connection I believe is more important than food and air and we’re missing it a lot these days. But loneliness is not new. It has been growing for years. Is that why you created Fabriq? Tell us about it.

Amy: About two years ago, we got really interested in the space of loneliness and disconnection since our company was dedicated to connection. There was a growing epidemic, especially with the pandemic. We wanted to help people have better connections because we’re in an era where we’re learning superficial and, in many ways, unhealthy social behavior so we asked ourselves, how can consumer technology help people learn positive behaviors and positive social habits and have meaningful genuine connections? We thought a lot about this and what we learned from the research was that health is a balance of mental, physical and social well-being, according to the World Health Organization. There’s so much out there about mental and physical health but we were struck by how few people were talking about social well-being. We looked at research on human connection and human flourishing and found that if you can’t define who your social network is, who the most important people in your life are, and I’m not talking about the “Friends” on Facebook, that’s a problem. We learned that the social support network is such a critical piece to improving social well-being so we started with a product that would help people stay connected to the people closest to them.

Family Winter Holiday is

Anna: What is the difference between a meaningful connection and a connection?

Amy: We based it on Robin Dunbar’s research, which said that people generally have four levels or circles of people in their lives. He found that at any given time, people might have about 150 people combined in all those circles. The who may switch over the years but that number is pretty constant. In your inner circle, you may have about five people. Your second circle will have 10 to 15 people.  Third circle may be 35 to 50 people, acquaintances. And the outer circle who you know but don’t have a lot of depth with them. What we found is that you treat these circles differently. The people on the inside are the ones you lean on the most. When you’re in need, those people are there for you. The degree of how much you count on someone wanes as you move to the outer circles of course. But people in outer circles can be important and meaningful too. The most important thing about a meaningful encounter is that you’re totally present during it. This is more important sometimes than who someone is to you. As long as you see and are seen and really connect, that’s most important and that makes a connection meaningful.

Anna: We’re having a vulnerability crisis right now. On social media, people want to portray a perfect picture but if we don’t dare to be vulnerable, we can’t connect.

Amy: It is hard to be vulnerable, especially for kids and teens growing up on social media in a world of filters and perfect posts. It’s hard to share difficult things that don’t look great. A lot of that comes from parents who are modeling that things need to be perfect or positive.

Anna: It’s interesting about the parent’s role. It’s so important to be vulnerable in front of your kids so we can role model it, especially for guys. Are guys lonelier than females?

Amy: We don’t have the data broken out by gender but we do by age. People over 60 tend to have the lowest loneliness rates, which is really surprising. Perhaps for them, they’re able to be more open and honest with others since they are no longer trying so hard to present a perfect picture, so they’re better at connecting.

Anna: You had quoted somewhere that the most important pathway to awakening is through a romantic relationship. What about the connection to self and others?

Amy: I don’t think it’s one or the other actually but the power of relationship to help us awaken is what drove me to start MeetMindful. Knowing how to connect with ourselves is the start though but romantic relationships are powerful. They bring up our attachment wounds which can be our core wounds. Relationships become the place where we can help resolve these issues and when we do so, we awaken to new levels of ourselves.

Anna: So with Fabriq, how do we use your app to help strengthen our relationships?

Amy: Fabriq is specifically designed to strengthen relationships with people already in your life as opposed to a dating app or an app that helps you meet new people. It’s not a social network. It helps you stay in touch better and strengthen those relationships. People find it similar to a fitness tracker but for your relationships. So you put your friends in the app and then you set goals for how often you want to be in touch with these people and then the app will give you reminders and other seamless ways to help you stay in touch.

Anna: That’s so cool because it’s so easy to forget to call people and it’s so easy to prioritize work and family and let a lot of other relationships fall away. Our final question, that we ask all our friends of Six Senses is about five things to do to stay healthy.

Amy: I do a morning meditation practice as regularly as I can. I’m very physically active. I eat pretty clean and make sure I eat a lot of vegetables. These are all pretty basic, I think, but the other two will be a bit more esoteric. I have goals and intentions around my relationships and I really make an effort to show up for them. I’m a big fan of the five-minute phone call. It feels simple but that connection, that quick celebration or quick “I’m here for you” can make a big difference. The last one is that I make sure to have time for magical joyful moments in my day. Maybe it’s a five-minute dance break or taking a nice bath but these are moments of joy that help me show up and be the best person I can be for myself and others. I really make sure to make time for these kinds of moments of joy every day.

Anna: We talk a lot about awe at Six Senses but I love your idea of a break for joy and finding something to do that makes you happy every day.

Biography

Amy Baglan has built three companies dedicated to connection and relationships over the past 10 years. In 2014, Amy founded the dating app MeetMindful, which has helped over one million people meet, connect, and deepen relationships of all types. Currently, she is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Fabriq, the world’s first social wellness platform, and host of the Wellness 3.0 podcast, the first podcast dedicated to social wellness.


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