Reflect On Social Connections
It’s old news that our happiness is deeply influenced by the social connections in our lives. Closer connections with other people have been linked not only to feeling happier, but to being healthier – even living longer. This article published at the Association For Psychological Science talks about the “upward spiral” thought to exist between health and social connections, from research by Barbara Fredrickson, a leading positive psychology researcher.
For most of us, that doesn’t easily translate into action. Knowing that married people live statistically longer doesn’t make it any easier for single people to find a partner. But there are a couple of actions I’ve been able to take away. First, I know that when I’m feeling a little rough, I tend to avoid social interactions. That instinct has become a trigger for me. When I feel myself reacting that way, I try to do exactly the opposite: I specifically look for opportunities to connect with people.
Second, Fredrickson recommends a fairly simple journal exercise related to social connections. At the end of the day (or, if you’re like me, whenever it makes sense to journal), take 10-15 minutes to write down the three longest social interactions of your day. Include how connected you felt to the other person and how in tune with them you felt. (I got this exercise from Dr. Fredrickson’s excellent coursera course, Positive Psychology.)