Connecting with Others - The Basis for Community
Like it or not, we are social creatures who crave human connections. It is hardwired into our brains because we need to work together to ensure the survival of our species. We have to work together to make this happen. It only makes sense then that forming and maintaining those connections has an internal reward built in. On the flip side, when we spent too much time isolated and alone we start to feel sad, depressed and if that isolation lasts too long, we can go mad.
And it is our interaction with other people more than anything else that brings us happiness. It isn’t the amount of money we make or have stashed away in a bank account. It isn’t the big house, the fancy car, and all the stuff we accumulate over the years. What makes us happy is spending time and sharing experiences with other people.
Of course not every single person makes us happy. We all have to deal with plenty of people we don’t particularly enjoy spending time with. We do it to work together on a project at the office, because they are our neighbors, or because they happen to work out next to us at the gym. Some people we are ambivalent about, others we’d rather not spend time with given the choice. Yet, there are still benefits to these relationships. We work well together, challenge each other and become better people, and better contributors to society at large when we collaborate. This has its own rewards.
When we are with people we love and whose company we enjoy on the other hand, we get a lot of joy, satisfaction, and happiness out of those interactions. We have evolved into beings who crave the mental, social, and physical connections. There’s a reason almost everyone appreciates a heartfelt hug, even one over the internet these days.
Spending time with people who love and encourage us, and those that challenge us, and make us push harder, help us grow as human beings. We get better when we have cheerleaders and mentors around us. There’s a reason people say that you are or will become the average of the five people you spent the most time around. Pick those around you wisely if you want to grow as a person and if your goal is happiness, spend as much time as you can with happy, positive people.
Above all, make sure you nurture those important close relationships with family and friends. Those connections will help boost your happiness and make you feel like you’re part of something bigger that gives meaning to your life.