5 Essential Elements of Well-being: Part 2 - Social
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition Coach | Possibility Thinker | Job Search Guide to Burnt-Out Teachers and Professionals
Last week, I kicked off a 5-part series on the essential elements of well-being. In the first segment, I discussed your need for career well-being. This week, I will talk about social well-being.
Rath and Harter offer that your social well-being is also important. Think about it. For most of your most memorable life events, you were most likely not alone. Our best moments--and sometimes our worst--occur while interacting with other people.
Weddings, funerals, births, even deaths include and involve other people. You may experience the occasional profound moment by yourself. But consider that when that happens, your first impulse is to share it with someone. Right?
Scientists are still discovering how our relationships impact our lives. What we know is that they can shape our expectations, desires, and goals. Even our emotions can spread quickly from one person to another.
Remember when you last saw a friend who had just gotten bad news? You knew right away from the expression on their face that something was wrong. Conversely, if they just got good news, they don't need to say a word. You can tell from their facial expression that they are feeling happy.
And you don't have to be close to someone to see this. People wear their feelings on their faces. Don't believe me? Next time you are sitting in a coffee shop or strolling through the mall, observe. Sit somewhere where you can watch unnoticed. You can see the furrow on someone's brow while they worry, lost in thought. You can see the frown conveying similar unhappy thoughts. And you can see the smile, too. You might even observe the sly flirtation or a moment of indecision. It's all there for anyone to see on the faces of everyone around us. You just have to be observant.
We get a lot of our emotional and social support from our families, of course, but we also depend upon friends for support as well. According to one Harvard study, our well-being depends upon the quality of our network as a whole. We have work friends and social friends. We have elementary school friends, high school friends, and college friends. Often, couples will socialize with other couples, too.
Remember the TV show, Friends? If not, you can catch the reruns anytime on cable or Netflix.
At first, back when it came on in the 90's, I thought it was a silly show with a dumb premise. Soon enough, though, I was drawn to it. It's a show about six young people who are trying to find their way in the world. They are all different, but they have one thing in common. They have each other. They are friends as a group, and there are friendships within the group as well.
Think about it. Part of the reason Facebook is so popular is that it allows us to be connected with those in our social group. Otherwise, we might get too busy to be bothered with staying in touch. But through Facebook, we can keep up with friends from long ago as well as more recently made. I have used Facebook to reconnect with people I haven't seen in 40 years!
Rath and Harter point out that we have stock in one another's well-being. It's good for our physiological health as well as our physical health. People with very few social ties have nearly twice the risk of dying from heart disease. Also, interestingly, they are twice as likely to catch colds.
The amount of time we spend socializing matters. Data suggest that we need six hours of social time in a day. Lest you think that sounds like too much, that six hours include time at work, at home, on the telephone, talking to friends, even sending an email. In other words, being in communication strengthens your social bonds and lends to your well-being.
It's also important to remember that we need more than one important person in our lives. One friend cannot meet all your needs and vice versa. Research indicates that people with three or four very close friendships are healthier. They have higher well-being and are more engaged in their jobs.
The bottom line is, get social! And now is a good time given that there are many parties and social gatherings you can attend.
Three recommendations for boosting your social well-being are as follows:
1) Spend six hours a day socializing with friends, family, and colleagues. This can include work, home, phone, email, and other types of communication.
2) Strengthen the mutual connections in your network. Don't be passive. Reach out to friends. (Be a friend to have a friend.)
3) Mix social time with a physical activity. Go for a walk with a friend. Meet them at the gym for a workout.
One cautionary note. Be selective about who you allow into your social circle. No negative people allowed!
Negative social time won't be helpful to your well-being! No chronic complainers, Debbie Downers, or Negative Neds. You want people who are going to add value and positive energy to your life.
If you don't believe that being around someone who is negative can bring you down, pay attention. The next time you hear someone complain, notice what that does to YOUR mood. It isn't going to lift you up, and that is guaranteed.
And if you try to offer solutions, for some people (and you know who they are) you are just wasting your breath. Save yourself the trouble. These negative folks get their energy from complaining, but they are sapping your energy in the process.
They are like vampires. They will drain you of your positive, energetic force. Don't let them do that to you!
Enjoy your family members. They have contributed to who you are. You inherited them, though, so be selective. If you have an energy vampire in your immediate family, keep them at arm's length to the extent that you can.
Deliberately attract positive, upbeat people into your life. Entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, says that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Let that sink in for a moment. Who are your top five people? Do they make you better and lift you up or do they demotivate you and bring you down? Maybe it's time to consider changing up your average. Seek out people who will lift you up. It can make you healthier and happier in the long run.
Whatever you do, don't underestimate the need you have for human interaction. We are social beings, and we social relationships. They are essential to our general well-being.
But don't take my word for it.
Listen to these 4-year-old friends who are more than just best friends. It will touch your heart and lift you up for today. It's worth waiting through the commercial for, I promise.
Click on the photo or the link below to see what I mean.
Until next time.