Social butterflies are scientifically more likely to live healthier and happier lives. This statement is supported by a Harvard study that lasted 75-years (1938-2013) led by a well-known psychiatrist named Robert Waldinger. The implication is that isolation, staying to oneself on a regular basis, can actually make you sick.
Happiness is an ever-elusive goal for many people. It is also one of our major pursuits as humans. Countless movies, books and visual images reflect our tendency as humans to chase a sense of happiness.
However, factors such as economics, transportation, social support and outlook on life are just a few criteria that can affect a person’s health and happiness. Other considerations include diet, sleep schedule and mental health. The Waldinger study, however, sought to prove that happiness was more easily achieved through relationships. And although happiness is a subjective term open to interpretation by each individual, it is safe to assume a positive life outlook, coupled with balanced mental health, good nutrition and balanced sleep diet patterns to support a person’s happiness and health.
Lessons about Happiness
1. Happiness is achieved through close relationships
Spending time with people we care about and enjoy is one way to dispel feelings of loneliness. The Social and Personality Psychology Compass journal says biologically we are social by nature and want to be around other people. Over time, being around with people we can form relationships. When this happens, we increase our sense of wellness that lasts an entire lifetime. Our wellness is connected to long-term memory, diet and healthy sleep patterns.
What to do: If you are seeking to form new, close relationships, try attending events that reflect your personal interests. Museums are a great way to drink in beauty while meeting like-minded individuals. Also, regularly visiting sacred spaces for spiritual renewal can draw us to form close relationships with others who have similar interests.
2. Happiness is achieved through quality relationships, not quantity
The more intimate and strong a relationship, the better it is for someone’s health. A Harvard Health Publication points out relationships that satisfy the mind, body, soul connection promote good health and longer lives. We can reduce the levels of stress in the body through social connections. In fact, even if a person smokes, the chances of them dying early is reduced if they have quality, strong relationships, the Harvard report says.
What to do: Social gatherings are an opportunity to groom relationships. If you feel a liking to someone or a group of people, arrange a social gathering for quality time together. Plan an event that reflects common interests for an opportunity to sit, chat and chew good food. This is an opportunity to groom quality relationships.
3. Happiness is achieved through stable, supportive relationships
Any old relationship just won’t do. The chances of increased happiness occur when a relationships is positive, free of drama and supportive. So not only is isolation bad for our health, so are toxic relationships. Our survival as humans, the Social and Personality Psychology Compass report says, is connected to our ability to shun hostile external situations and gravitate to hospitable and friendly connections. This is especially true in marriages as several reports state.
What to do: Seek out positive people. Listen to what people say and determine whether their outlook on life is positive or negative. If you try to steer conversations toward positive thoughts and acts, but a person keeps returning to the negative, think about how their words impact your sense of happiness and wellness. The same is true for connecting with people who show signs of stability in their personal and professional lives. These kind of supportive relationships allow us to survive, reproduce and experience happiness.