Two is better than one. Being socially connected makes a big difference to your health and it is the quality of those connections that make a difference. We are created to be social beings and live in a community!
Both social isolation and loneliness increase mortality, regardless of whether the person has any health problems or doesn’t feel lonely (Demakakos et al. 2012).
The World Happiness Index considers factors such as life expectancy, generosity, freedom, corruption, and social support when determining global and individual country happiness (Helliwell et al. 2019).
Inequality has been a big factor that has caused a decrease in global happiness since 2007.
Developed and wealthier nations like the US, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia are not featured in the top 10 happiest countries.
Having a social community around you helps decrease the negative side effects of worry, sadness and anger.
Loneliness is a growing issue that is continually increasing across the globe (Schulze 2018). But is significantly greater in societies and age groups where social media usage is the highest (Schulze 2018, No Isolation 2017).
Since 2009, adolescents’ communication via social media has increased, while face-to-face interaction has decreased (Helliwell et al. 2019). The more time they spent on social media, the more likely they are to be unhappy or depressed.
Build community with people that are positive and uplifting.
You can also strengthen your existing relationships by loving and, if needs be, forgiving those nearest to you and/or find new friends who are positively oriented with a like-minded community such as a sporting club or church group.
Volunteer to create more opportunities to be social (Musick & Wilson
Perform 5 acts of kindness to others per week (Lyubominsky et al. 2005; Nelson et al. 2016).
Smile and talk positively – these are infectious and draw others to you.
Be exposed to nature – it may boost kindness to others (Piff et al. 2015).
Learn to communicated effectively by being an active listener, expressing you thoughts, feelings and wants, using non-confrontational body language.
Learn skills to manage situations where conflict arises when your interests, needs, goals or values interfere with those of someone else.
Learn to appreciate your own culture as well as other cultures.
Demakakos, P, Shankar A, Steptoe A, Wardle J. Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012; 110(15): 5797-801.
Schulze H. Harvard Health. Loneliness: an epidemic? April 16 2018. Harvard Health. Accessed 26/03/2019 http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/loneliness-an-epidemic/
Helliwell J, Layard R, Sachs J. (2019). World Happiness Report 2019, New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Accessed 25/03/2019 http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/#read
Lyubomirsky S, Sheldon KM, Schkade D. Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology. 2005; 9(2): 111-131.
Musick MA, Wilson J. Volunteering and depression: The role of psychological and social resources in different age groups. Social Science and Medicine. 2003; 56(2): 259-269.
Nelson SK, Layous K, Cole SW, Lyubomirsky S. Do unto others or treat yourself? The effects of prosocial and self-focused behavior on psychological flourishing. Emotion. 2016; 16(6): 850-861.
No Isolation. 2017. The prevalence of social isolation in Europe. 27/04/2017 Access ed 26/03/2019. www.noisolation.com/global/research/the-prevalence-of-social-isolation-in-europe/
Piff PK, Dietze P, Feinberg M, Stancato DM, Keltner D. Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015; 108(6): 883-899.
WEF. 2019. The world’s happiest countries in 2016. World Economic Forum. Accessed 25/03/2019. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/the-worlds-happiest-countries-in-2016/