Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology puts it simply as: “Other people matter”.
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Scholars and scientists agree about the central importance of relationships for our wellbeing and our happiness. Many studies have shown that both the quality and quantity of social connections have an impact on our health and longevity as well as psychological wellbeing.
Not having close personal ties poses the same level of health risk as smoking or obesity. Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support appears to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older.
Close, secure and supportive relationships are the most important for well-being, whether these are with our husband, wife, partner, relatives or friends. Research shows that it’s the quality of our relationships that matters most. This is influenced by:
- Experiencing positive emotions together – e.g. enjoyment, fun
- Being able to talk openly and feel understood
- Giving and receiving of support
- Shared activities and experiences.
Just as relationships are a two-way thing, it seems the connection between happiness and relationships is too. Not only do relationships help to make us happier, but also happy people tend to have more and better quality relationships.
So working on our relationships is good for happiness and working on our happiness is good for our relationships. That’s a win all round!