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The Massive 75-Year Study Shares 3 Secret Recipes To Genuine Happiness With Us

The Massive 75-Year Study Shares 3 Secret Recipes To Genuine Happiness With Us

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Michelle Owens

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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