It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an article, and I’ve been thinking about writing this one for over a month. Actually, this should have been one of my first articles written. Several of the articles that I’ve posted have been about how to improve one’s overall well-being. Another factor that is integrally related to our sense of well-being is the quality of our social relationships. There are countless studies that demonstrate that our happiness is in our relationships. Simply put, the better social relationships that we have, the happier we are. The greater conflict we have in our social relationships or the more detached we are from relationships, the more likely we are to be unhappy. I read one meta-analysis (a study of studies) on the subject that estimated that about 70% of our overall happiness comes from the quality of our social relationships.
This makes sense when you think about it. We are inherently social creatures. Over millions of years, evolution has shaped us to be dependent upon close knit groups. We need others to survive and thrive. Looking at it a different way, when have the happiest moments in your life been? Chances are they have been when you were with close friends or relatives. You’d be hard pressed to find someone with many close relationships that is unhappy. Conversely, you are unlikely to find someone who is truly happy who does not have any close relationships or who has relationships that are characterized by frequent conflict.
If you agree that what I’m saying makes some sense, then the implication is that we all should strive to develop, maintain, and improve our social relationships. Make sure that you spend quality time with your family and friends, reconnect with some former high school or college buddies, go on some trips and outings with family or friends, or try to make some better connections with your coworkers and neighbors. These are the things that truly make us happy. It’s not the plasma TV, the BMW, or the mansion. Yes, it would be fun to pick up your good friend in your shiny new BMW convertible, take him back to your mansion, and watch “Lost” or a Longhorn football game on your 52″ plasma TV. What I’m saying is that you are likely to more fun doing about anything with that close friend than sitting at home alone in your mansion watching your plasma TV with the BMW parked in the driveway.
My next post will be about some simple ways to improve our relationships, so stay tuned…