In this increasingly connected world, some people are finding more reasons to disconnect. There are more reasons to ‘unfollow’, to take offence, to be disappointed, to throw one’s arms up in the air and declare that the “world has gone mad and I want none of it”. There are more reasons to shut others out because they don’t represent “who I want to be”, they don’t say the right things, or think the right things, or be the right people. This pushing away is evident in today’s highly-fractured world.
But when it comes to happiness studies, it’s ‘relationship goods’ that comprise the bulk of what makes us happy, time and time again. You could be filthy rich with an enviable lifestyle, but be poor in social capital, and chances are you’ll be less happy compared to another who prioritises family, friends, and their community, and who lives within a strong and supportive social network. The strong link between life satisfaction and being connected to others “appears in almost all empirical analyses of life satisfaction data irrespective of geographical and time differences,” states the 2015 World Happiness Report. What’s more, in studies of centenarians, it seems that social connectedness is also linked to a long life.
So, if a people-centric life is the secret to happiness and longevity, increasing your ‘social capital’ needs to be not only on your goal sheet, but moved right to the top.