Social Connection

Do you have close relationships that are a positive influence on your life? Do you take time to invest in them?

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Having and investing in your social connections is an important component of well-being. Emotions spread quickly from one person to the next — when you see a friend who is happy, this often causes you to smile. Because we tend to synchronize our moods with the people around us, our emotions influence one another throughout the day. And, not surprisingly, the strongest of our relationships are those that include shared mutual friends with other people close to us. Our networks can influence our personal well-being, so positively investing in them not only improves our lives, but also those of the people around us.

Taking the time to nurture these relationships is an important part of our own well-being. Data suggests that to have a thriving day, we need six hours of social interaction per day. This includes interaction at work, at home, on the telephone, talking to friends, or even sending email. Every three hours of social time reduces the chances of having a bad day to 10 percent, and each additional hour of social time — up to six hours — improves the odds of having a good day. People with thriving social connections have relationships that give them positive energy on a daily basis.

Boost your social connections. Try these recommendations:2

1. Strive to spend six hours a day socializing with friends, family, and colleagues (this time includes work, home, phone, e-mail, and other communications).
2. Strengthen the mutual connections in your network.
3. Mix social time with physical activity. For example, take a long walk with a friend so you can motivate each other to be healthy.

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2Rath, Tom, Harter, Jim, Harter, James K. Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, New York, NY. Gallup Press, 2010

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