The Importance of Social Networks

“People who have at least three or four very close friendships are healthier, have higher well-being and are more engaged in their jobs.”  

Most people do not realize how much their social connections mean to their emotional and physical health and wellbeing. Those with friends, family and significant others derive great benefit from their social networks. You quickly transmit your emotions to those around you. And when those around you care about you, your emotions, like a battery, will be in a constant state of positive charge.

Humans “synchronize [their] moods” with those around them. Your emotions influence the feelings of others, and their emotional states influence your own. Harvard University research covering 12,000 subjects over a period of more than 30 years found that if someone in your social network is happy, the chances that you will feel happy rise by a factor of 15%. “Even your friend’s friend’s friend influences your well-being.”

Positive relationships with others enable people to ride out the rough spots with less physiological stress. Those who keep to themselves are twice as likely to die of heart disease. In an experiment to measure the healing power of loving social relationships, researchers inflicted small wounds on the arms of 42 married couples. The wounds of those experiencing tension and hostility in their relationships healed 50% more slowly than the injuries of happier couples.

To achieve wellbeing, people need to socialize six hours daily. Each hour that you spend with other people decreases the likelihood that you will experience a bad day. Your social wellbeing depends on having one good friend, at a minimum; three or four are better.

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