Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. — Jane Howard
Close family and friends give us many gifts. They appreciate us, they celebrate with us, they laugh with us, they cry with us. They share their knowledge and talent and resources. And we give them those gifts in return. Sharing our lives is a foundation for happiness; we all need family and friends and community.
A recent study reported in CNN magazine points out that people’s happiness quotient goes up significantly (up to 25%!) if they have a close friend that lives nearby, a close sibling that lives nearby, a neighbor that they are friends with, and even if a friend of a friend lives nearby. What’s more, happiness ripples through social networks. If we have friends who are happy people, it boosts our own feelings of happiness and contentment.
For each of us, family, friends and community may be different. Some of us may have a large, extended family, or one close sibling, or a favorite aunt, or a family that we’ve adopted. Some of us may have a few close friends, or we may be social butterflies. Some of us find community in the church we go to, or we are friends with some of the parents at our child’s school, or we belong to a jogging group or a book club.
George Burns, the American actor and comedian, famously said “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Well, no one said families are perfect, (or for that matter, roommates, or friends) but we’re social creatures and we strive to have good relationships. And when we do? Our happiness quotient goes up!
Then there’s the concept of community at work. Workplace studies that focus on employee engagement and retention say that people want to have “a community at work”. If you spend seven or eight hours of every day at your workplace, you want to feel a sense of belonging and connection.
I once worked in a workplace where the secretary was the ultimate social convener. She organized Halloween parties, Valentine’s parties, birthday parties, picnic parties. We were a happy department and the other departments gravitated toward our end of the office.
Friends and family and community are there for us in bad times as well as good times, the times when we’re sad or disappointed or grieving. We share out emotions and it helps us to recover sooner, to not get stuck, to make our way back to happiness.
Friends and family and community are also there for us when we celebrate, whether it’s a graduation or a wedding or a birth or a raise or a retirement or some small personal victory. Celebrations bring people closer together and spread happiness.
If this is an area lacking in your life, there are some easy concrete steps you can take to add community to your life:
- Go to church. This is one of the best places to find community.
- Join a club (book club, knitting club, spelunking club)
- Go to the group classes at the gym.
- Reconnect with old friends by making 1 hour per week a “phone call” hour where you just talk to friends on the phone.
Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute
with love, grace and gratitude.”
– Productivity consultant Denis Waitley
Have a question about this blog post? Come join us at Bramble Berry’s Facebook page and we can help you out with any of your soapy questions!
ANTHONY SHIMPS says
Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.Yours is a nice blog.
What a timely post! The loss of my grandfather has shown me just how important family and community is in our lives. We truly need the network of friends and family to help get us through the difficult times in our lives.
Man is not meant to be an island for a reason. We need each other in our lives.
I work as a family counsellor, and about half the workers on my team have been there for 20 years. What keeps them there? Relationships.
Relationship, relationship, relationship. This is our mantra. If we want to work as a team, if we want to work with our clients, if we want to keep ourselves sane in such a high stress field, we have to work on making connections with each other and our clients. If we develop a safe place to share feelings and thoughts in our work place and for our clients with an emphasis on trust, honesty, and respect, we will be able to weather the crises that come with working with people.
I’ve always believed I could find the meaning of life and I think I have…relationship.
Everything in life comes back to relationship. I shop at local stores because I love the connection I have with the staff — they remember my likes, dislikes, buying habits, and always ask we’re doing next at the craft group. And that little extra connection is enough to make me a regular customer. It’s amazing to see the reaction from my craft group kids when I remember a birthday or piece of information about their lives! And I try to remember those things about my (occasional) business customers – fragrance preferences, favourite products, upcoming events – because it makes me feel happy to connect with those who buy my products.
(As a note, consider volunteering in the community as a great way to create connections and relationship!) Sorry for the long post…I’m just passionate about this topic!
I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers so I have lots of family to rely on and have fun with. Most live in another city so maybe that helps keep us happy!
Pajama Mama says
I LOVED this post, AM!
Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill says
We do not survive as well without our friendships…they keep us on track.
I have enjoyed the “happiness” posts.
that is a great idea.
schedule 1 hour per week to talk
i will have to try that!
schedule your fun and your work!