Part of what I love most about this time of year is watching new-school-year friendships bud. If we’ve learned anything in the last 100 years of research related to happiness, it is that people’s happiness is best predicted by their ties to friends and family.
Now we have a new study that gives us a little more detail about that. This new research, based on 6,500 middle-aged folks in the UK, found that people who had 10 or more friends they saw in person at least once a month had greater well-being. Family was also very important, but just for men. (Perhaps family obligations neutralize some of the happiness-effects of relative relationships for women.) The take-away is that friends are really important for happiness, and quantity counts.
Hopefully this September has been a time when your children have made new friendships and deepened their old ones; I also hope that this fall is a time for us parents to deepen our own relationships.
Here are some of my favorite (easy!) ways to foster deeper friendships:
(1) Plan a “recurring playdate” with a group of friends. Try hiking together the first Monday of every month, seeing a movie every Thursday night, or having a “family dinner” with friends every Sunday. When we ritualize our relationships like this, we take out the hassle of having to plan and organize time to get together. People who meet regularly like this tend to deepen their relationships faster.
(2) Be a “joiner.” Americans today are less likely than they were in generations past to join groups like a bowling league or a Bible study. This difference negatively impacts our health and happiness. So the next time you are invited to join a book club or a yoga class that meets regularly, consider doing it!
(3) Connect to your besties. Find a regular time to call them and touch bases, so that no more than a week goes by without hearing the latest and greatest. Maybe you have some down-time during a commute to reach out, or can dedicate Wednesday evenings to making a few calls.
May you be happy,
Here’s what was on the blog in September…
Happiness is…the Weekend?
How to make weekends joyful.
Greater Happiness in 5 Minutes a Day
How to teach kids loving-kindness meditation.
A Free Tool for Calmer Parenting
Mindfulness as the antidote to busyness and frantic parenting.
The Art of Saying No
For parents who do too much.