I am very excited to share a guest author’s post today! Especially because the article is on one of psychology’s most important endeavors: understanding what brings us happiness so we can better attain it. Enjoy!
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Reiterating Everyday Psychophilosophy’s musings on the definition of happiness, it is more than just the state of being happy at any given moment. A person’s subjective wellbeing is predicated by the right kind of emotions at a particular time period. There are many factors that can contribute to a person’s wellbeing, and one of those that should not be neglected is human interaction.
There are people who, like true social butterflies, flit from one group to the next and yet feel lonely at the end of the day. And there are self-diagnosed introverts who feel whole and fulfilled with the limited connections that they have. It seems that what determines a person’s level of happiness isn’t any kind of human interaction at any number, but the depth at which that connection is cultivated.
STRONG VS. WEAK TIES
Through a person’s lifetime, he or she will make and break many relationships. Psychology Today cites a foundational study by Mark Granovetter, in which he classified the types of bonds a person makes as ‘strong ties’ and ‘weak ties.’
Family and close friends tend to be the ones to stick and thus are of the first category; while weak ties are the people you only see occasionally, like the supermarket cashier whose name you never seem to remember. Findings suggest that what accounts for most of your overall wellbeing is the good social interactions with people to whom you are closely related.
Family and friends are the ones you turn to when you start feeling stagnant in your life or experience a sudden shift of emotions. You can trust them to give you their honest insights on whatever it is you might need talking through.
A study published by NCBI showed that people who engage in substantive conversations are more likely to be happy than people who barely scratch the surface of small talk. This is attributed to the sense of intimacy that is shared between two people in deep conversation. Close relationships act as a receptacle for your feelings and having a strong social support system helps in keeping you more grounded and lessens your chances of loneliness.
HAPPINESS IS INFECTIOUS
If a friend of yours is happy, you’re also more likely to be happy. Harvard Medical School demonstrated that happiness can be contagious and the first people to be affected are the ones closest to you. Researchers have found that emotions, such as the wide spectrum of positive feelings, can spread through a person’s social networks even when they’re not directly connected to the origin. The happiness of the people in your social network can rub off on you through human interaction.
While the impact of weak ties on your happiness is less direct, they are necessary in instilling a sense of belongingness within a community. For instance, internet fandoms are online-based communities that share a particular interest such as books, artists, and movies. Take the Harry Potter Fandom which has an active membership that keeps growing despite the series ending years ago.
Other platforms use games to encourage interconnectedness, and integrates special features to address the tendency of users to seek interaction with other players. Bingo, for instance, was once only available in clubs or in private gatherings, have been adapted onscreen.
Aside from winning, the essence of the Bingo is socialization, which is why it garnered player communities even online. Foxy Bingo notes that 90-Ball Bingo is the most famous form of the game, giving it a wide player-base, many of whom also interact in other channels like social media and online forums. It’s evident that the interaction between likeminded people can give a sense of being a part of a bigger community. It doesn’t matter whether it’s done online or face to face, because it’s the feeling of acceptance in a group that can greatly improve a person’s happiness.
All in all, the pursuit of happiness is a pursuit of human connectedness. Cultivating deep and long-lasting relationships matter most in making your life more meaningful. But don’t dismiss your other acquaintances as unnecessary. The interactions you have with people, no matter how brief and small, can greatly impact the overall wellbeing of both parties.
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Psychophilosophy to Ponder: Who are some people in your life that bring you happiness? Have you ever considered thanking them for being a part of your life? Today’s post highlights the value of having intimate friendships, and bonds between people deepen with the more emotions you express between one another–and gratitude is a great one to start with!