A Secret to Happiness

Beach day at St. Maarten

If I were to tell you about a new medication that relieves pain, reduces stress & anxiety, lessens your risk for type 2 diabetes, helps improve memory, increases longevity, and enhances overall life satisfaction, would you drop your to-do list and rush to phone your doctor’s office for a prescription?  According to an article on Medical News Today, social interactions can result in all those benefits and more.

Exploring the Victorian Charm of Cape May, New Jersey

According to Dean Ornish, MD, whose Program for Reversing Heart Disease has been covered by Medicare since 2011, no other lifestyle factor has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death from all causes than loneliness and isolation. The real epidemic in our culture is not only physical heart disease, but also what I call emotional and spiritual heart disease, Dr. Ornish explains.  

Enjoying the adobe architecture in Taos Plaza, New Mexico

A write-up from Harvard Health informs us that scientists are finding social connections not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking.  The article goes on to say that caring involvement with others may be one of the easiest health strategies to access. It’s inexpensive, it requires no special equipment or regimen, and we can engage in it in many ways.

A Psychology Today article says that engaging socially not only lessens feelings of depression, but also helps you fight off colds, the flu, and even some types of cancer.  I’d say that’s some pretty strong medicine!

Independence Day Parade, Flagstaff, Arizona

Dan Buettner, in writing The Blue Zones of Happiness, reviewed various polls and surveys from countries around the world to discover the factors that contribute to making the happiest populations.  Costa Rica, he found, is one of the countries whose citizens reported being the most content. He attributes this to their focus on spending a great deal of time with others.  Costa Ricans are socially interacting five to six hours a day, face to face, he writes, including barbecues with friends, church services, family meals, and soccer games. The U.S., with its rigorous work philosophy, did not make the top 12 in Buettner’s tally.  

Recent concert at the original Woodstock venue, upstate New York

Being outside is the easiest way for me to feel part of a physical community.  I find open-air concerts absolutely exhilarating. And time outdoors with friends, food, and drink is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.  But even strangers who are hiking, biking, fishing, or sitting in a park are often cheerfully willing to engage in conversation. According to an Evidence Note from Forest Research in the UK, green infrastructure can help bring people together, . . . increasing social activity, improving community cohesion, & developing local attachment. These benefits, the research says, reduce domestic violence and overall crime rates.  It’s no surprise that spending time in the embrace of our Primal Mother brings us together in a way that makes us more tolerant, loving, and supportive.

Strolling around a German village

Social interactions can contribute immeasurably to our lives, helping us feel better about ourselves, enhancing immune function, and prolonging our lives.  Focusing less on life’s never-ending to-do list and more on sharing time with others is a sure way to increase happiness.  How often are you willing to become happier?

The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food. ~Dean Ornish, MD

Blessings for Community,

Lisa

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

69 thoughts on “A Secret to Happiness

  1. Absolutely agree – the downside is the nation is so polarized politically at the moment that social interactions these days have a tendency to devolve into scratching at everyone’s differences rather than celebrating the common ground. Along with the interaction I think the other completely free tool for happiness is simply working those muscles that make you smile – a an easy activity that helps both you and the person who sees you doing it. Great post!

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    1. Hi, Joanna, I’m happy to hear you don’t suffer from loneliness! I, too, LOVE my alone time! So much so, in fact, that I sometimes have to remind myself that we evolved as social creatures & spending time with others on occasion is in fact good for my health. Hoping your weekend is filled with beauty! 🌞

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  2. I agree that social interactions are important/vital as is, at least for me, alone time. The exact division varies from person to person and some people are resistant to social interaction as are other to being alone at all. Balance. I think Covid brought out some of the problems with limited interaction although I must admit I didn’t really suffer. Moving away from our friends in Illinois caused me more, well, you can’t really call it suffering, but more sadness and of course it’s harder to get to know people in an extended time of no one being very social.

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  3. I love how you pull such powerful pieces to educate and teach the power of connection and the great outdoors Lisa. Your pictures are so beautiful as well! Have a wonderful weekend my dear freind!💖💖💖

    Liked by 4 people

  4. It’s true Lisa, we do need some interactions with other people … but for me, there must be a good balance. I love spending time with our friends and just people in general, but then I do like my alone time as well. But if I do get too much of the one, I get itchy – I suppose you must know yourself quite well to determine what works best for you, hey 😉.
    But there are few things in the world better than a good time with friends – that is indeed free medicine to my soul!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great post! I especially agree with the section about interacting with others outside. I always find other hikers, bikers, or campers to have a little chat with while I’m out. I always get a happiness boost after these conversations.

    I love Cape May! I was excited to see the first photo. We have camped at the depot travel park and bike from there to the beach and through town. So fun!

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  6. I enjoy very much interacting with other human beings but also need time on my own. Unfortunately, as the world tries to open up again we also run the risk of fanning the flames of the virus! Another excellent post with wonderful photos. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend 💐💐🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Rachel, agreed, covid certainly put a hiatus on possibilities to socialize. (BTW, the first paragraph I wrote for this post focused on covid and the conditions it is leaving in its wake; but the way the rest of the article developed, it didn’t really fit, so I took it out.) I am grateful it looks as though things are getting better and we can indeed reconnect! 🌞

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  7. I like the information you presented in your article. There is nothing wrong with being outside and socializing, having fun, and making friends. It does help to get out and get fresh air. Anything we do that is physical is good for our body. We all want to be happy, but we have to make it happen. Keep posting great information. I really enjoy reading your posts. I always learn something that I did not know. You are a true blessing. Stay safe.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Excellent post, as always, dear Lisa. I agree with the theory and practice behind this lovely post. Connection to the self, and to others is most important. In this regard, I’ve been reflecting on my next outing; and, I am pleased to write that I just booked a short trip to WA to see Alanis Morissette. Connection is, indeed, important. Lovely write-up, Lisa. 🤗🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fortunately, although not the same, I’m thankful for the virtual social interactions! Thank you for a lovely post Lisa ❤ I cannot help but yearn for those carefree social events that was possible before the pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I suspect socializing with others is one of the main contributors to happiness. I know of folks who had have a hard time socializing and they are either lonely or depressed. We seem to need at least some connection with others for our emotional health!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, and welcome! You’re right: I think many people have started isolating out of fear during the pandemic and now that things are better in some countries, it’s hard to get out of that mindset and rejoin society. But, indeed, socialization is vital! Thanks for your supportive comment! 🌞

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  11. Good piece! True, we need one another! I find it ironic that interaction with others is deemed beneficial for our long-term health and effective in preventing colds, flu, and other diseases, and at the same time we’ve been ordered to stay away from others “for our protection.” 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Connection. The many different ways we can connect with others are a beautiful thing. Like you I find food and being outside help talking and interacting seem a whole lot easier, especially with people I don’t know – or as my grandad says “friends you haven’t yet”!

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