People with strong social relationships tend to be happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth.
Our connections with other people, whether this is family, partners, friends, neighbours or the broader community all contribute to our happiness. Many studies have shown that both the quality and quantity of social connections have an impact on our health and longevity as well as psychological wellbeing.
The quality of our relationships are influenced by:
· Experiencing positive emotions together e.g. enjoyment or fun
· Being able to talk openly and be understood
· Giving and receiving support
· Shared activities and experiences
Relationships are human nature
By nature we are social creatures and it makes sense that our relationships are central to our happiness. Some psychologists and biologists argue that, contrary to the ‘selfish-gene theory’ it is the survival of the group that is likely to be most successful in evolutionary terms.
Happiness is contagious across social networks
As well as our close relationships, we all have wider connections with people across different circles of our lives– at work, our communities or through social activities. Although these relationships may not be as deep, they are also important for our happiness and wellbeing.
Having diverse social connections improves our sense of belonging and influence how safe and secure we feel.
Some research shows that happiness is contagious across social networks. Our happiness depends not only on the happiness of those in our direct social network, but the happiness of the people they know too. Happiness ripples out through groups of people.
We can help build happier communities by doing what we can to boost our own happiness and being conscious of the impact our behavior has on others.