Happiness Habits – Day 8: We Crave Human Connections
Like it or not, we are social creatures who crave human connections. It is another hardwired pathway in our brains because we need to work together to ensure the survival of our species. Hopefully you’re not too surprised to learn that forming and maintaining those connections has an internal reward built in. Connection with others is so important, our body sends us signals to let us know when we’ve spent too much time isolated and alone: we start to consistently feel sad and depressed; and if that isolation lasts too long, we can go mad. So yes, spending time with others is important.
Happiness happens around other people. It isn’t the amount of money we make or have stashed away in a bank account. It isn’t the big house, the fancy car, and all the stuff we accumulate over the years. What makes us happy is spending time and sharing experiences with other people. All the “stuff” does is give us a conversational topic!
Of course, not every single person makes us happy. We all have to deal with plenty of people we don’t particularly enjoy spending time with. We do it to work together on a project at the office, because they are our neighbors, or because they happen to work out next to us at the gym. Some people we are ambivalent about, others we’d rather not spend time with given the choice. Yet, there are still benefits to these relationships. We work well together, challenge each other and become better people, and better contributors to society at large when we collaborate. This has its own rewards.
When we are with people we love and whose company we enjoy on the other hand, we get a lot of joy, satisfaction, and happiness out of those interactions. We have evolved into beings who crave the mental, social, and physical connections. There’s a reason almost everyone appreciates a heartfelt hug. In fact, we need a minimum of about 8 hugs a day – you’ll get more on that later.
Spending time with people who love and encourage us, as well as those that challenge us and make us push harder, help us become better people. We get better when we have cheerleaders and mentors around us. There’s a reason people say that you are or will become the average of the five people you spent the most time around. Pick those around you wisely if you want to grow as a person and if your goal is happiness, spend as much time as you can with happy, positive people.
Above all, make sure you nurture those important close relationships with family and friends. Those connections will help boost your happiness and make you feel like you’re part of something bigger that gives meaning to your life.
Your homework for today: Figure out how you’re going to get 8 heartfelt hugs a day on a regular, on-going basis. Who would you like to get more hugs from? If you have a significant other, make sure you hug at least once in the morning and once at night. If you have kids, hug them lots! I’d always thought that instead of handshakes, we should have hugs when meeting people. Try it!