Networking and happiness

© ra2 studio - Fotolia.com

© ra2 studio – Fotolia.com

Can being a more Intentional Networker make you more successful?  I’m certain of it.

Being even just one notch more purposeful, positive, and present as you meet and interact with people helps you stand out in the crowd and attract more rewarding connections, both personally and professionally.

But here’s something even more appealing:  being a more Intentional Networker can also make you happier.

Think I’m making this up?  Read on.

In developing a workshop designed to improve the connections and collaboration among leaders within corporations, I had no problem digging up interesting research on the value of making and maintaining good relationships.  Studies prove that other people are vital to our emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being. And this is true whether they are our everyday friends and confidantes, our business contacts, or merely the people with whom we have “a nodding acquaintance.”

For example, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research polled 5,000 people and discovered that:

  • The number of in-person friends you have positively correlates with your well-being, beyond income, demographics, and personality.
  • Doubling your number of friends has a similar effect on your well-being as doubling your income.
  • Friends are especially important if you are single, divorced, separated, or widowed.

Then there’s a study by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph. D., Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina. Her study states: “Micromoments of shared positive emotion, including even the briefest of conversations, can create oxytocin in the body, leaving us feeling a range of healthy, positive emotions.”  (Don’t know what oxytocin is? Let me just say this: it’s one of the happiest feel-good chemicals your body makes.  You want this trickling through your veins! So, in addition to kissing your loved ones and petting your cat or dog,  be sure to thank the barrista who makes your coffee, greet and smile at the people you pass in the hallway, and offer a sincere compliment to the person who handles your deposit at the bank or hands you your dry cleaning.  You will all feel better for it.

But wait! There’s more: others will feel better, too!

That’s because the positive feelings you generate by being friendly to one person extend beyond the actual interaction.  According to a study published in the British Medical Journal authored by Nicholas Christakis, Ph. D., a physician and professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School, the good feelings generated by your friendly interactions create a happiness ripple that travels as far as three connections away.

Huh.

These tidbits got me thinking and rereading Gretchen Rubin’s inspiring, yet very practical book The Happiness Project. If you haven’t read it and happiness is important to you, get yourself a copy. Gretchen, by the way, isn’t an airy-fairy woo-woo happiness guru. She happens to be a Yale-educated scholar, lawyer, and biographer who wrote Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at JFK, and other fascinating books.  She notes, “One conclusion is blatantly clear from my happiness research: everyone from contemporary scientists to ancient philosophers agrees that having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.”

So there you have it.

Perhaps you have stories about how relationships and interactions, whether significant or simple, have contributed to your daily happiness? I’d love to hear them as I do research for my next book.

Haven’t read The Intentional NetworkerClick here to get your copy.

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