Probably the Most Important Contributor to our Wellbeing that Freaked Me Out
When I first started studying Positive Psychology, there was one significant happiness factor that freaked me out. It was repeated over and over and kept coming up as a main contributor to our physical and emotional wellbeing. A large amount of research supports that the strength of our social network is critical to our positivity and health. This freaked me out because I’m an introvert and prefer people in small doses.
As I continued to read and learn, I eventually discovered that it’s not the quantity but the quality of our connections that matters. Studies show that as humans, we do better when we have someone in our lives that we care about and when we know that someone cares about us. Phew! That news made me feel better.
“The need for connection begins even before birth. It goes literally from the womb to the tomb. Relationship affects our physical and mental functioning throughout life.” – Dr. Henry Cloud, author of The Power of the Other
And it made me realize that I need to nurture my relationships. I find it can be easier to just stay home or to feel that I’m too busy to take time to spend with friends and family. But now I realize that this time is an important investment that is not only fun but improves my overall wellbeing (and hopefully theirs, too!). It could even be a quick phone call or text.
Of course, it’s helpful if these people bring out your best, make you feel good, and add to the overall happiness of your day. It’s not so good if they bring you down, cause you stress, or make you feel discouraged. I’m not saying you should totally avoid people who are more negative, but you may want to limit your time or find ways to charge your positivity battery before or after these interactions.
How about you? Do you have healthy social relationships that you invest in? What could you do this week to nurture one or more of these connections?