Social Connections & Happiness
Leaving Twitter made not one iota of difference to my social network, but completing this year’s Happiness Challenge certainly did.
The Happiness Challenge, published in the New York Times wellness newsletter, posits that happiness is all about relationships, as established by nearly a century of research into adult development and published in The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.
Odd One Out
I knew I needed more social contact. I’d spent the last two years in solitude, writing and then revising my chronicle of learning to hunt. After finishing Reviving Artemis, I thought I needed to revive my social life. Even before the pandemic and before learning to hunt, I’d thought of myself as an incurable loner, perhaps because I grew up the only girl in a family of boys, the odd one out.
The Happiness Quiz
The Happiness Challenge kicked off with a quiz about the strength of my relationships.
Was I was satisfied with the number of close friends I have?
Am I comfortable striking up casual conversations with people?
How many family members do I have close relationships with?
Four or more.
How many people could I call in the middle of the night if I needed help?
Four or more.
When was the last time I expressed gratitude to someone important in my life?
Do I participate in group activities either in person or online?
Yes, weekly. (I was surprised by how many!)
How much time do my social activities include my partner?
Many, not all.
If I never saw my closest family member again, would they know how I feel about them?
Yes. But better tell them again.
Did I talk to my neighbors?
Several times a week.
Am I satisfied with my connections to people at work?
First, I said No, I work alone! But then I remembered the writers at the weekly workshop I run and changed my answer to Yes! Yes! Yes!
When had I last initiated a social plan with someone?
When was the last time I said yes when someone initiated a social plan with me?
The day before.
A Big Surprise
To discover I was in “tip-top” social shape was a big surprise. I was a lonely child, I work alone, I spend most of my time at home alone, and aside from posting this blog, I spend almost no time on social media. I’ve always thought of myself as a loner. It’s been a long-held belief about how I operate in the world. But maybe that’s a long-outdated narrative I don’t need to tell myself anymore. Maybe it’s time to change my story.
I may not spend much time on social media, but I am connected: connected in real life, in real time, in person, in my family, in my community, and in my friendships. This is good enough for me. This is living in place.