Don’t go it alone

It’s in the American DNA to romanticize the “rugged individualism” of the frontier cowboy, or the self-made millionaire.  Yet, when history is accounted for and research is taken into account, the ability to achieve and be successful is really a social and connected affair.

A resilient mindset depends on being connected with other people. For instance, people with low social support are prone to more mental illness. In fact, just merely imagining loneliness can negatively affect our behavior.  Even while sleeping and dreaming people’s minds are preoccupied with social relations. 

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.

With today’s extensive and inner-connected “human web”, the chain of acquaintances between us and any other person on the planet is now three.  Resilient people leverage those intimate social networks to increase opportunities for everyone.

Like an influenza outbreak, a recent study by James Fowler et. al. found that happiness spread in social networks, affecting people through those three degrees of separation.

For instance, a happy friend of a friend of a friend increases the chances of personal happiness by about 6%.  The same research also discovered that a $5000 income only bumped the odds of happiness by merely 2%.

Happiness spreads best at close distances. A happy next-door neighbor ups the odds of personal happiness by 34% and a friend within half a mile by a whopping 42%! 

Though people may have hundreds (if not thousands) of social connections via the internet, resilient people always keep a few close and intimate relationships within very close physical proximity and add value to those connections through contributing their own positive contributions to the mix.

A simple rule of thumb regarding human connection is this:

The more relationally significant a piece of information is the less technology you ought to use to communicate.

Call me old fashioned, but I still think a young man proposing to the love of his life ought to get down on one knee, look her deeply in the eyes and say those immortal words, “Will you marry me?”

That proposal just shouldn’t be texted or twittered.

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Posted in adaptation, Attitude
One comment on “Don’t go it alone
  1. ken says:

    That happiness is contagious is a very amazing thing, to me. I have learned that even if I am faking it, I still feel better(happier).

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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