Over the past year, we’ve lived with shelter-in-place orders implemented to help keep us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we’ve also had to learn to cope with loneliness and social isolation. Now that most of us are fully vaccinated and protected from the virus, public health officials tells us it’s safe to go out and socialize. We decided to explore the link between social connection and happiness.
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley reports on groundbreaking research into the roots of compassion, happiness and altruism. In an article, they asked the question: Is social connection the best path to happiness? They referenced several studies exploring people’s personal strategies for happiness, and they found a main common denominator – social connections do, in fact, lead to happiness.
Most of you are familiar with Blue Zones, LLC and founder Dan Buettner. Their Power 9® principles are evidence-based common denominators of all the Blue Zones regions. One of these is Right Tribe – finding social circles that support healthy behavior. In an interview, Buettner said that social activity and community are integral factors to living a Blue Zones lifestyle in addition to diet and a strong sense of one’s purpose.
Here in Monterey County, there are plenty of opportunities to connect. Each month, we host free Community Connections classes, some virtual and some now in person. Also, we put together a list of senior clubs and social resources in Monterey County to help you find other local opportunities.
This year, Aspire Health wants you to “Choose Happy” because “Healthy Starts with Happy.” On our checklist of “21 opportunities to focus on happiness in 2021” several of these focus on social connection such as hosting a happy hour with family or friends or calling an old friend to catch up. Most of these activities can be done with family or friends. And of course, you can share what you’re doing with them, because happiness really is contagious!
We will continue to share activities and content showing how happiness can lead to better overall health. Follow along on our blog and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) and share your journey with us using the hashtag #AspireChooseHappy.