“Happiness is only real when shared.” Chris McCandless said these words and I think he was really onto something.
Inner happiness is valuable, but without social happiness, we still feel incomplete. Social happiness helps us connect and thrive in a way that leads to a fulfilling life.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about social happiness. By the end, you’ll be equipped to be a happy social butterfly.
- What exactly is social happiness?
- Why does social happiness matter?
- 7 tips to be socially happy
- Wrapping up
Social happiness is the joy found in connecting with other human beings. It’s engaging in meaningful relationships that deepen our daily lives.
We can derive happiness from within ourselves. But if we have no one to share our highs and our lows with it leads to loneliness.
Let’s look at an example to make it clear. Think of the last time you had some really good or exciting news. What was the first thing you wanted to do?
If you’re like most people, you want to share it with your loved ones. When you get to share your happiness with others it seems to somehow increase your happiness.
This is in part why the research shows that people who engage in close relationships experience greater levels of happiness.
So we know that social happiness is more likely to lead to our own personal fulfillment. But why else does it matter?
Turns out research shows that people who experience more loneliness tend to have greater levels of cortisol. Cortisol is essentially our stress hormone.
This means that folks who don’t engage socially tend to feel greater levels of stress. And this seems to consequently negatively affect your hormones and cardiovascular health.
Another study validated these findings that health is negatively impacted by loneliness. And the findings held true across multiple populations.
It seems that our well-being hinges in part on our ability to be socially happy. It’s as though we are biologically hardwired to need each other.
I find this true personally on many levels. Some of my most depressing times in life were when I lacked a social community or support.
Our friends and social groups help us enjoy life more. And perhaps more importantly, they help us cope with life when things are not so fun.
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If you’re ready to boost your social happiness, then these tips are the perfect recipe for you.
1. Practice being considerate of others
One of the easiest ways to be socially happy is to take the focus off of yourself and consider others.
When you consider others, you will find that people are attracted to you. They will want to engage in a relationship with you because you are showing respect.
But what does being considerate of others look like? Sometimes it means listening more than you speak. Other times it means putting their needs above your own.
This concept came into play this morning for me. My husband and I take turns commuting to work by bike because we only have one car.
He’s been complaining about knee pain for the past few weeks. I felt tired and didn’t necessarily want to bike to work today.
But I realized I can push through fatigue. So I put his needs first and I offered to ride my bike.
This prevented a potential argument. And it led to my husband expressing appreciation for my thoughtfulness.
When you practice being considerate, your relationships will flourish. And this will result in you feeling greater levels of social happiness.
2. Be vulnerable
In order to form genuine connections, you have to let your guard down.
As someone who has spent the better part of her life avoiding vulnerability, I get that this isn’t easy.
But I’ve come to realize that our struggles and weaknesses are what bond us as humans. And it’s so much easier to say how you’re really feeling than put up a front.
When I was first in physical therapy school, I wanted to appear like I was confident. What I was really feeling was insecurity about my ability to become a physical therapist.
I didn’t start making deep friendships until I was honest with my peers about these feelings.
I realized that pretty much everyone was feeling that way. And this helped us better understand each other.
I’ve also seen this come into play with my husband. I tried to hide my depression for months. All this did was put a wall between us.
When I finally opened up about it, he was able to help me and our relationship grew.
It’s scary to be vulnerable with your feelings and emotions. But the social reward that stems from vulnerability is so worth it.
3. Show others that you care
Showing others that you care is one of the quickest routes to social happiness.
We all like to feel special. And when you take the time to let someone know you care, you’re communicating that they are special.
This will draw people to you and help deepen your current relationships.
So how do you show others that you care? Here are some ideas:
- Communicate your appreciation verbally.
- Write a thank you note.
- Make them a homemade gift or buy them something personal.
- Give your time freely when they need help.
- Call simply to check in on them.
If you’re like me, you often associate showing someone you care with spending money on them. And while that’s one great way to do it, it’s not the only way.
Notice many of these options cost you nothing. It’s not about getting extravagant gifts for someone.
It’s about showing someone that they matter to you.
And it’s important to make it a regular occurrence. I am guilty of getting so caught up in my own life that I forget to put in the time to show others I care.
Slow down. Say I love you. Call your mom.
These are the little things that will multiply your social happiness every day.
4. Be quick to forgive others
If you’re searching for social happiness, you may find it by forgiving others.
Trust me, I am no expert at this. I’m the first to admit that I hold onto a grudge for too long.
But all this does is hurt me and others. I could save myself and my relationships loads of unnecessary strain by letting things go.
I was on the phone last week with my mom talking about a wrongdoing from one of my friends from 3 years ago. She asked me, “Why does that matter?”
And it hit me. She was right. I was being absolutely silly.
Why had I still held onto that grudge all these years? There was no logical reason to do it. It was based on my own hurt and selfish insecurity.
It didn’t help that friendship thrive. In fact, it made me distance myself from that person.
I decided to call that friend that afternoon and fully forgive her. Since then, we have met for coffee and I realized how much I missed having her presence in my life.
My social happiness was being blocked by my inability to forgive. So get out of your own way and forgive others often.
5. Be open to constructive criticism
You’re probably wondering how the heck being open to constructive criticism is going to help your social happiness. Let me give you an example to paint the picture.
Do you have one friend who does something that aggravates the rest of the friend group? This happened in my friend group not long ago.
One friend always showed up an hour late for our dinners or parties. We were afraid to confront the person because she tends to be defensive and hyper-reactive.
This ended up building an awkward tension between us and her. Eventually, we did confront her about her behavior.
Much to our surprise, she was super apologetic and everyone ended up feeling better.
There are times when I am the person that annoys others or does something wrong in the relationship. It’s my hope that my loved ones know I want their honest feedback.
Because relationships can’t grow and tension will inadvertently build without honest communication.
6. Let go of harmful relationships
Sometimes social happiness comes at the cost of letting go of harmful relationships.
You can’t hold onto relationships where you don’t bring out the best in each other. Unfortunately, we all tend to encounter relationships like this at some point in life.
My romantic relationship in college was a prime example of how socially unhappy you can be if you don’t ditch unhealthy relationships.
My boyfriend didn’t want me hanging out with any other guys. And if I spent too much time with my other friends he was upset.
This resulted in me changing my behavior in hopes of making him happy. And as a result, my other relationships suffered.
It took a pretty major intervention from my friends to realize that staying with him wasn’t in my best interest.
It wasn’t easy, but finally letting him go made more room for positive relationships in my life.
Say goodbye to the relationships that are holding you back if you want to invest in your social well-being.
It’s funny how easy it is in today’s society to not be social “in person”.
You can hop on Instagram or Facebook and think you’re being social. But it’s much harder and sometimes even anxiety-inducing to meet up with people in person.
But part of being socially happy is putting yourself out there to be social.
This means carving out time in the busy workweek schedule to meet up with friends. Or it means saying yes to the after-work drink that you always turn down with co-workers.
If you don’t make an effort to be social, your social life is not going to magically thrive.
And if you don’t feel like you’re getting invited to do things, be the one to throw out the invitation.
I understand that it can also be hard to make friends as an adult. But there are always ways to do it.
You can participate in a meetup group for a variety of hobbies. Or simply start talking to people you see regularly at the gym, church, work, or the grocery store.
All this to say, you have to put in the work to be social in order to find your version of social happiness.
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One of the essential ingredients for overall well-being is human connection. Without it, it’s easy to feel as though life lacks meaning. The tips from this article will help you cultivate social happiness to deepen and grow connections in your life. And don’t be surprised when focusing on social happiness elevates your life in beautiful and serendipitous ways.
Are you socially happy? What tips from this article did you find most helpful? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!