Post No.: 0211
Rather than money – having good friendships or social relationships and support is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. To clarify further, it’s the quality, not quantity, of our social connections that is probably the single greatest predictor of our happiness. Being alone by choice can be better than hanging around people you don’t get along with, but having just one high quality relationship is far better than being alone. It’s better to have a small handful of really tight, reliable, loyal and loving friendships than thousands of superficial connections. It’s therefore important to have close social ties. Weaker ties can offer diverse perspectives and broaden our social network, opportunities and worldviews to help prevent ingroup biases though – but in terms of happiness, close friendships are the key.
Now people think that being loved, being popular, is what makes us happy, but that isn’t the most accurate picture. Happiness is to love – to love your life, to love what you do, to love other people, to love your pets, to love what you are, to love what you have, and so forth. Your job, the weather, your home, the shape of your ass, for example, don’t even have sentience to ‘love you’ or anyone, but if you ‘love them’ then that’s what will make you happy. And the good thing is that to love is more under your own control rather than someone or something else’s. Meow!
You therefore don’t need to have an agenda to love someone – if you want to be a friend for someone then be that friend for them. To love, far more than being loved, is what makes us happy, thus our happiness is firmly up to us, in what we choose to give, not in what we wish to take. That’s why hate, bitching, narcissism, selfishness or revenge will only hurt yourself and make yourself grumpy in the long run. When you question whether you should or do love someone because she/he may not love you, the doubt about your love for her/him is where the anguish is. Or if you think about yourself too much, you’ll become incredibly lonely and insignificant.
So regarding your own happiness – it’s not so much about whether you’re loved but whether you love, and this has an added benefit because you’re more in charge of it too. Of course it’s easier to love someone who loves you, and it’s best overall to both love and be loved in return (and you wouldn’t want to be exploited by someone who just always takes or doesn’t care about you at all) but if you can show love then chances are that you’ll receive love in return anyway and that’s how friendships will form. Therefore don’t seek for other people or things to love you (first), which is a desperation for attention or insecure neediness – try to be happy to love someone or something for the loving itself because to love is to bring you the happiness; and if she/he loves you back then it’d be the beautiful and perfect icing on the cake. <3
Happiness is also contagious, so being around happy people will improve your own happiness too. We’re connected to each other, made for each other, we belong to each other – in other words, happiness is a life shared. And real-time, face-to-face contact is overall best, if possible, but other forms of communication are better than none at all.
If you’re using online social media, it’s best to be actively posting and liking than passively reading and comparing. Social media can improve our well-being if we use it to actively interact and share with others, but can dramatically decrease our well-being if we use it to passively judge and compare with others. It helps us to keep up to date with others but ‘social media’ can be a misnomer at times because a lot of the time people use it instead of meeting or talking with people face-to-face or in real-time, and sometimes people use it to do antisocial things such as trolling or comparing themselves with others and feeling inadequate and isolated for it. Social comparisons and envy are, ironically for social media, corrosive for social relationships, from weaker ties to deeper friendships.
Receiving a ‘like’, ‘retweet’ or ‘comment’ on a post or photo can give people a little dopamine hit (which can over time turn into a behavioural addiction for some users), but these again depend on what other people give you, which is a fragile state because one day you might get nothing – rather than what you give to others, which is in your own fluffy paws. So make social media predominantly a place about sharing (e.g. pictures of everyone together rather than mere selfies (although some selfies include other people in them too), pictures of meals together rather than dishes that no one else you know shared with you, share advice, share support, share wisdom). Don’t make it merely a place about bragging or selling. (In fact, I personally hope selfies go out of fashion one day – it’s better to have other people take your photos for you because that definitely means that other people are there with you. If you routinely take selfies, you might one day look back at your own pictures and think about how often you were physically alone when taking them, and not just alone but narcissistically alone for taking all of those photos of yourself? If someone takes someone else’s photo then it means at least two people weren’t alone and at least one person was concentrating on someone else.)
Impromptu visits to see friends have great social value – when we overly formalise and plan our social visits, they can create burdening expectations from the guest and most of all the host, and this effort to set up ‘a perfect day’ reduces the desire to meet up more often. (A visit based on a last-minute notification may be more practical and/or polite in some cultures, to check if someone will be in or where they are to avoid wasted journeys, and this is fine as long as it doesn’t spur the host to panic to try to set up anything during that minute.) More informal and impromptu visits mutually lower the expectations of needing to get dressed in anything special, tidying the house specifically for the occasion, preparing a special meal, preparing entertainment and bringing gifts as an expectation rather than as a bonus or surprise. The hosts won’t be prepared and the guests won’t expect them to be. Visitors will just get integrated into whatever’s happening in the house at the time. This lower effort and serendipity will mean that friends will be more likely to visit each other, just like the friendships you had when you were kids!
In summary, both loving and being loved are important but overall our well-being depends more on us having someone to love than being loved – the latter also depends on others whilst the former is something we have a bit more control of. Besides, if you have the capacity to love others then you’ll likely be or become loved in return. This relates to sharing more than expecting to receive on social media too. And relax with friends – it shouldn’t be like having dinner with your boss or with royalty and trying to keep up appearances or pretences (do not confuse ‘social norms’ such as friendships with ‘market norms’ such as business). Friendly visits should be informal and fun, whatever age you are.
Happiness is the cart but love is the horse that drives it. Friendships and good social relationships are more important than having lots of money. If it feels like someone cares about you and you care about them, it makes all the furry difference.
On that note, I’m off to catch up with Furrywisepuppy, as usual, to see what he’s up to – I bet you he’s still tinkering with that robo-mech he’s been trying to build for a while now…