Our connection to others has a strong correlation with our degree of happiness. Research over the past 50 years has shown that the quality of our relationships with others strongly influences how happy we are. People with quality social connections, whether those be friends, family members, neighbors or significant others etc, are less likely to feel depressed, lonely or isolated. They also have higher self esteem, sleep better and have better eating habits. In addition, having good systems of social support strengthens immunity and lowers the risk of heart disease and mental decline.
Our social connections to other people provide us with a sense of security and belonging where we can learn and grow as individuals. Quality relationships also give us a sense of validation, an opportunity to celebrate and have fun with others as well as the experience of loving and being loved. Other people provide us with different viewpoints and ideas, which can help us gain new and varied perspectives, not to mention provide wonderful learning opportunities.
Research has shown that people are generally happier when they are around others with whom they have quality connections, versus being alone. This was true for both introverts and extroverts alike. It has also shown that happier people are more friendly, sociable and helpful, which makes them more attractive to others. This indicates that not only does connecting to others make us happier, but also that being happier makes it easier for us to connect to others.
Making sure we have strong social connections is crucial. However, social interactions at any level can be uplifting. Try smiling at a stranger or chatting up the barista or check out clerk the next time you are out and about. Offer help when you see someone that could use it. Even the smallest action can have a big impact on how you feel and on how the other person feels.
I remember one day when I was in a somewhat grumpy mood. I saw a very happy looking and affectionate couple waiting in line at a coffee shop. Our paths crossed on the way out. I had an opportunity to comment on how happy they look together or to say nothing at all. I chose the former, which led to a very uplifting conversation that totally turned my mood and my entire day around. I distinctly remember the huge shift in my attitude and attributed it to the positive social interaction I had just experienced. Try giving a stranger a compliment the next time you’re not feeling your best and see how it affects not only them, but you.
Since the benefits of connection and its correlation to our happiness is so profound, making an effort to create and maintain strong social ties is crucial. Connecting with loved ones on a regular basis, be it in person, over the phone, or even through email or snail mail can really make a difference in your and their life. I suggest going a step further than just social networking sites. Remember, quality, not quantity is what counts. Nurture your connections and they will nurture you for life.
© Copyright 2015 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving