Do social connections equal happiness?

    Greetings Hängitants!

    Have you ever felt something by instinct or just knew something without knowing why?  I feel that way from time to time. But, today, I found some actual information which verified my klärvoajans regarding why Hänga has a vital role to play in modern society. 

    Two professors and researchers (Danilo Bzdok and Robin Dunbar) at two of the world’s most prestigious universities have authored a study regarding the science behind social distancing. Thanks to COVID, there was no shortage of study subjects or scenarios for which they could draw upon for research.

    I won’t go through every single point of their findings (feel free to do so here), but I wanted to share with you all some points that really jumped out to me.

    Our need for connection is innate

    I have heard so many people say that man’s natural state is to be alone. That modern technology has made us dependent on “validation” and attention from others. But that’s not the case as one of my favorite excerpts from the piece puts it,

    From babies to the elderly, psychosocial embedding in interpersonal relationships is crucial for survival.

    Bzdok and Dunbar

    Our need to form connections and to have those bonds be built upon meaning and personal enrichment is our natural state. It isn’t a byproduct of smart phones, the internet, or globalization. It is, if anything, only enhanced by those things

    Our connections shape us mentally and physically

    Have you ever felt a little positive buzz after getting a notification from a friend group chat?  While that emotional change is easy to see, it seems it may have had a physical effect as well. The report posits that there is “evidence for structural coupling between social network size measured by the number of online friends and parts of the default mode network, including the hippocampus”.

    We are better together than apart

    Depression can happen to anyone for an innumerable amount of reasons. It is real and its grip can be tight. However, one of the passages in the study stated that when “people who belong to more groups” which foster these connections (and, assuredly, utilize mobile apps which facilitate numerous opportunities to build these links).

    reduce their risk of future depression by almost 25%

    Bzdok and Dunbar

    Loneliness can be deadly

    It’s not just depression, too, which is impactful, but the general effect of loneliness. Another passage pointed out that loneliness is not just isolated to one part of the brain, but goes deeper into every other sector (soul?). It can “skew your social perception” and, in some observed cases, cause “the onset of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s”.

    We don’t have to be devoid of these meaningful building opportunities, we have built Hänga to ensure there’s a time and place to do so. I’m going to continue to read through this report (more blog post alert!) and look forward to continuing to engage with you all here on Hänga. Our world (and health) are better when we stay connected and engaged to each other.

    Have others join the Hänga Tribe!
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