Psychologists have found a strong link between people’s social relationships and how happy they are. People with more friends tend to be happier, and people who have just spent time with friends tend to get a boost in happiness — even introverts who weren’t initially looking forward to doing so. Here are nine social hacks you can employ to improve your well-being.
Make a gratitude visit
A gratitude visit is where you visit someone who has helped you purely to express your thanks. Studies show this provides an immediate boost in happiness that persists for some time. You could make a gratitude phone call if it’s not convenient to visit in person.
Random Acts of Kindness, or RAKS, can not only make others happy, but studies show they can boost your happiness too. They can be as simple as paying for someone’s coffee, giving random compliments, or doing the dishes when it’s not your turn. Try to perform on RAK per day.
Find group events
Look up the clubs, groups, classes, and meetups in your areas. Go to one gathering each week, whether a cooking class, support group, martial arts lessons, language exchange, evening courses, nude modeling, or anything else that interests you.
At least once a week, arrange to spend time with the positive, supportive people in your life. Don’t wait for them to invite you; ask them over for dinner, out for drinks, or to a shared activity like bowling. Don’t let your friendships die off; people can fall out of your life before you realize what happened.
Physical contact releases a cocktail of chemicals in your brain, so hug people when you meet up with them. Of course, use some common sense here — a bear hug is not an appropriate way to start a job interview, for instance.
Look for agreement
Debates can be fun but can block rapport sometimes. For more upbeat conversations, use the “Yes, and” technique. Actively listen for points of agreement, and after they finish, just say “Yes, and…” then follow up with your point.
You can carry a lot of baggage by not letting old transgressions go. Think about someone who has wronged you in some way, and then forgive them for it. You don’t have to express it to them, just get to a place in your mind where you can forgive.
Develop your empathy
It’s easier to connect with people if you can see things from their point of view. Think about another person, and try to imagine what it is like to be in their shoes and to feel how they feel. If you take the time to practice this, it will eventually become automatic for you and strengthen your intuitions about people.
Research shows that people who have sex at least once a week tend to be happier. Studies also have found that quality is more important than quantity.
Work at it
One aspect of personal development becomes self-perpetuating: if you make an effort to connect with people, they will return the favor. You don’t have to become a social butterfly to see the benefits; even minimal work on your part will go a long way.