Many of one’s happiest moments are when surrounded by other people and engaged in meaningful interactions. That is why cultivating positive, meaningful, fulfilling connections is the core of our final pillar of happiness.
Research has shown that there is a link between social connections and happiness, as well as between social isolation and unhappiness. It also suggests that social relationships are not enough to make us happy… but not having satisfying relationships makes us unhappy.
The most extensive study of human happiness showed that there was one crucial element that differentiated the top 10% happiest people from everyone else – and it was the quality of their relationships (to learn more check out this TED talk by Robert Waldinger).
There are two important types of relationships that contribute to our wellbeing and happiness – close relationships (friendships, family, romantic partners) and quick positive connections (interactions with “strangers”). The basis for all of them is similar: acceptance, listening, empathy, respect, and appreciation.
The two types of connections contribute to our well-being in different ways. They fulfill our need to belong and our need for inclusion, acceptance, and affiliation. Also, they allow for a sense of self-expansion (close friends feel almost like a part of ourselves and our identity), are a great predictor of well-being and happiness, and having positive relationships can help during emotional crises and life transitions.
Perhaps today you can reflect on your close relationships and other connections you have? What can you do to show appreciation for someone important to you? If there is someone you haven’t heard from in a while – maybe today is the right time to reach out?
Looking for more specific actions and tips on how to strengthen each of the pillars?
Join the Happiness Academy free 12 lessons email course “Strengthen your pillars of happiness”.
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