Social interaction is the most basic form of communication for humans as a whole. Although we all have busy lives due to family, work and education, evidence suggests that humans are born with a special need for connection and communication. When human interaction is missing, unhealthy lifestyles tend to surface. These conditions include: obesity, various addictions, bad habits, hypertension, loneliness and isolation.
The need for deeper communication with chosen friends does not refer to the individual’s personality type, whether it is introverted (finding your energy by looking inward), or extroverted (gaining energy from outside sources). Very few people are total introverts or extroverts, most are a combination of the two. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your career is, how many people are in your family, or how often you date; all humans have the need to share their personal highs and lows with someone close.
Numerous studies have been conducted and have yielded the same results: people with more friends are generally happier. This is because, as previously mentioned, humans want to connect with other humans. It is one of the most powerful forces in why people act, speak and live they way they do. Making deep personal connections is one of the simplest, most crucial factors to living a healthy life, yet it remains one of the most underrated priorities. According to various studies, statistics have shown that people with friends and companions live longer lives than those who consider themselves lonely.
Steve Cole, PhD and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA, found that well-formed connections often extend life spans by 50 percent, strengthen the immune system and help those recover from diseases faster. He also found that quality of interpersonal relationships is more important than quantity.
Other studies reported that persons who have at least one confidant have lower rates of anxiety and depression, general higher self-confidence and well-being, and are open to trusting relationships. Typically, they practice more trust and accountability with others, resulting in better overall health. This inner sense of connectedness is equally as important as getting adequate sleep and eating a nutritional diet. All three form the core of health and well-being in individuals.
Human connection and interaction is not only good for you health, but it is also necessary for stimulating the mind. Think about it: the most popular websites nowadays are social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so many other social networking sites have taken the internet by storm. Although each social media outlet differs in reason of use, there is one uniform goal shared by each site: connecting people.
We are curious creatures by nature and we like to learn about other peoples’ lives. Some of the most popular shows on television are “reality” TV. Our minds are stimulated through learning and interacting with other people.
Shelley Taylor, from University of California in Los Angeles, also made a significant discovery. The same part of the brain that registers physical pain also activates with social rejection, and that is the main reason most people are reluctant to form new relationships. Taylor also observed that isolation tends to increase inflammation in the body, demonstrating that social connections are both physically and psychologically significant and even necessary for a healthy life.
The bottom line is that when someone can confide and trust another human being, there is a strong connection made internally that creates good emotional and mental health. When you continue in a close relationship, your tank will stay full of love and naturally spill over onto those around you.
If you find it difficult to start conversations with strangers or mingle at get-togethers, don’t be discouraged. Take comfort knowing that you are not alone, and your next confidant could be just around the corner.