Why Connection Impacts Well-Being

April 30, 2010

According to Gallup’s Well-Being Index, three million Americans have less access to basic necessities than they did in the first three months of 2008, the same year data collection for the index began. In most areas such as Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, Physical Health and Healthy Behaviors, Americans have improved their sense of well-being. In fact, it is at its second highest since 2008. In other areas with less personal control such as the Workplace, there continues to be a lag in well-being.

What does this tell us?

  • Personal control matters.
  • Having access to things that fulfill our basic needs matters.
  • Being connected matters.

We must begin to understand that not only is our overall well-being a composite of numerous factors, but also our collective well-being as a human race. It is reminiscent of the butterfly effect. The wings of a butterfly on one end of the Earth can influence a hurricane on the other. We are all connected. Nature is connected. Despite all our knowledge, it is funny that we still act as if we are not.

Let’s look at an example. Did you know that happiness is contagious? I’m not just talking about a smile you might meet at the check-out line; your happiness impacts the happiness of others in your proximity as well. A recent study by James Fowler that relied on participants from the Framingham Heart Study found that a friend who becomes happier and lives less than a mile from you increases your likelihood of happiness by 25%. Apparently, this goes for your friend of a friend, too. Interestingly, happiness levels were not affected, according to the Harvard University-led project, at the workplace. That is, your work colleague’s happiness levels do not impact your own. Perhaps it has to do with the competitive environment or that you may have a different type of relationship with your co-workers than you do with your friends.

What might the solution be to increasing overall global happiness levels ergo overall well-being? Work with those you love! And love what you do. According to Deepak Chopra’s recent video report, only 20% loved what they did. “It is no wonder,” he states, “that more people have heart attacks on Monday morning at 9 a.m. than any other time.”

What is your dream job? What steps can you take today to get one step closer to it? The happiness of the planet depends on it.

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