Happiness, Social Connections, and Emotional Immune Systems

Developing key social connections is of greater importance than ever previously realized. In addition, there is a tie between social connection and resilience.  While we do need time alone, that solitude is given meaning by the social connections we possess.

What exactly does this mean?

The impact of losing social connections

Think about the latest pop stars. They worked toward a goal of becoming more successful, and, when they reach that pinnacle of success, we hear them say in some interview that they are lonely, or depressed, or fell into some kind of funk. Might this be because, when they finally became uber-successful, they could no longer just go hang out with friends like they used to? All of a sudden, it seemed, that they had lost access to their social connections.

The same could be said of the people who retired from their jobs after 25-30 years of giving it there all. They loved with they did, but it was time to move on to another stage of life. Yet, they became lonely and sad. Again, the people who had been such an important part of their social circle were no longer there for them to see daily. After all, the rest of their social circle was still busy working each day.

This fits the latest research. Instead of “working hard to be more successful and, then, we will find more happiness” what we really find is that the happier we are, we will then become more successful.

Experiencing increased negativity in our world

The Center for Disease Control has found that depression rates have doubled in the past decade, and that anxiety rates are at one of the highest ever. Even eight year olds are being hospitalized for suicides more often. So, what’s leading to this?

Could it be that we’re hyper-comparing ourselves to others through social media? Or, that we’re constantly being bombarded by negative news? There’s also the possibility that we imagine we must follow a certain path in order to be successful, or we’re blaming ourselves for being less than perfect.

We don’t have the ability to control everything around us; there will always be someone on social media whose life seems more perfect than ours. We may find ourselves in the sphere of someone with a negative attitude, or we, or someone we love, may end up facing a health challenge. It is because of these realities that we need to determine how we can change our frame of thinking so that, regardless of the circumstance, we can still experience more positive results.

Creating a positive emotional immune system

This is when our own behaviors and attitudes will matter the most. As Shawn Achor says, we need to try to create a more positive emotional immune system; in a way, inoculate ourselves against negative effects. Whether we have a positive outlook, practice mindfulness, or make an effort to appreciate the gifts in our lives, we will be more likely to have a storehouse of positive imagery for when negativity comes knocking at our door. We’ll be ready to help ourselves, and others, as well.

Dr W


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Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash.

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