Happiness and Human Connection

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Like it or not, we are social creatures who crave human connections.

Not that all of us are extroverts, because I'm a card carrying member of the introvert club, but we are hardwired for community because we need to work together to ensure the survival of our species. It only makes sense then that forming and maintaining those connections has an internal reward built in. On the flip side, when we spent too much time isolated and alone we start to feel sad, depressed and if that isolation lasts too long, we can go mad.

I think one of the hardest parts of teaching is that our classrooms can become an island.  When I coach teachers, I encourage them to get out of their classrooms and move about the school. Aside from getting a little exercise, you also get to see your students in a new light. When I was a full time school counselor, I did lunch duty and walked the cafeteria most days.  Seeing students completely casual, with their besties and eating their favorite foods gave me a perspective most parents and teachers didn't get and helped me build lasting relationships that were very beneficial when I later needed them to trust me or to accept the direction I was giving.

When we are with people we love or whose company we enjoy, we get a lot of joy, satisfaction, and happiness out of those interactions. We have evolved into beings who crave the mental, social, and physical connections. There’s a reason almost everyone appreciates a heart-felt hug.

Spending time with people who love and encourage us, and even those that challenge us, and make us push harder, help us grow as human beings. We get better when we have cheerleaders and mentors around us. There’s a reason people say that you are or will become the average of the five people you spent the most time around. Pick those around you wisely if you want to grow as a person and if your goal is happiness, spend as much time as you can with happy, positive people.

Above all, make sure you nurture those important close relationships with family and friends. Those connections will help boost your happiness and make you feel like you’re part of something bigger that gives meaning to your life. Your goal for today is to cultivate a relationship or two that you may have been neglecting.  Catch one of your kiddos being good or call up an old friend.  Invest in the relationships that bring you joy.