Let’s take care of our friendships, relationships with family members, romantic relationships.
Why? First of all, because social connections are good for our HEALTH.
A study conducted by Myers in 2000 showed that those who have close ties to other people:
1) are less at risk of premature death;
2) are more likely to survive serious illnesses, such as cancer and heart attacks, and
3) are less at risk of being overwhelmed by stressful situations.
Also, because social connections increase our HAPPINESS.
In fact, a study conducted by Diener & Seligman in 2000 showed that “very happy” people have many close friends, many family ties and better romantic ties, while “very unhappy” people are in the opposite situation, having little of all this.
Not only that: “very happy” people spend a lot of time with their friends, family and partner, while “very unhappy” people spend most of the day alone. So even the simple fact of spending time with the people we care about has a significant influence on our happiness.
Does this only apply to close ties? No.
A study conducted by Epley & Schroeder in 2014 showed that if people are placed in 3 different conditions on a train, meaning that the first group is told to connect with a stranger, through a conversation, the second group is told not to talk to anyone and enjoy their solitude, and the third group is told to behave as they normally do when on the train, the group of people who make a connection with someone report that they are notably happier than others. This, although obviously people expect the exact opposite to happen, because we all have the feeling that “we will be better off if we mind our own business and do not disturb other people”.
And you know what? Even people who are “disturbed” by our conversation, contrary to what we would expect, are happier than those who “are not disturbed”.
So even creating temporary social connections, on the train or on the street, generates happiness. For us and for others.
Why does this happen? Because simply being with someone makes our experiences better.
Think that even the simple sharing of some pleasant activities, specifically eating a chocolate bar with someone who is as well eating a chocolate bar, makes us feel much happiness than doing that same activity alone. This is what Boothby et al. have demonstrated in 2014. People liked chocolate better when they ate it with someone else. Incredible, isn’t it? The same chocolate bar seems to us to be better for the simple fact that we are eating it in an environment where someone else is also eating it, without there being any dialogue between us and that person.
If this is it, imagine all the richness of watching a movie with your partner, going to dinner with a friend or taking a walk with someone.
Social connections make the richness of life even richer.
I am going out for a coffe with a friend, have a good Sunday!