Be Social. Be Happy.

by Meghan Ward-Bopp

“Research shows that the happiest people report having at least seven hours of social interaction a day.”  I was watching a segment on Good Morning America this week about the happiest places on earth when the guest shared that little nugget.    The guest, Dan Buettner author of Thrive, clarified only face-to-face or phone interaction counted as interaction, not texting, facebooking, tweeting, etc. 

As I sat in the Newark, New Jersey airport on my way home from a Social Excellence and Recruitment visit at Rutgers University, I couldn’t help but wonder.  SEVEN hours.  That’s an incredibly long time.  But then it started to click, of course the happiest people are the most interconnected people.  We’re social creatures, we feed off the energy of others. 

I couldn’t help but think about what could be, though.  What if we all embraced this idea of seven hours of social interaction daily, but combined that with Social Excellence.  Not only just talking to people during those seven hours, but being generous, curious, authentic and vulnerable.  How different would each of our lives be if we intentionally connected in the deep zone or fun zone? 

If we knew we had to get those seven hours in, would we sit blankly staring at our fellow passengers on the bus?  Would we greet our co-workers with the same “do anything fun last night?” or could we push and challenge ourselves to share a smile and helping hand to make someone’s day?  Would we sit down with our co-workers and ask about their family or volunteer at a homeless shelter to help with career counseling?

I’m going to start small, for one hour a day I’m going to interact with someone that isn’t in my normal, daily scope.  Maybe that means volunteering at a new organization, chatting to strangers on a plane, or simply picking up the phone to call a relative that I rarely talk to.  I have no idea if this increased social interaction will actually make me happier, but I know it will make those I reach out to happier – and maybe that’s what it’s all about anyway.