Humans are undoubtedly the most social creatures on the planet. It is the method we employ to attain meaning.
According to Professor Robert Nozick, one of the great modern philosophers, meaning by definition, requires crossing boundaries of other sentient beings (i.e. involving others). Love is generally considered the most important fulfillment, but it is nonetheless a subset of achieving meaning, and “love” that is without meaning is a worthless endeavor. A person can care enough for another to say they love them, but the importance of “love” as Spinoza opined depends on meaning being given to the loved by the loving one. AMEN!
“One is the Loneliest Number” was a hit song by the Three Dog Night in 1969. By all available scientific data, the song is accurate. Recent multiple well-done studies have shown social integration has a significant benefit on health. In the Swedish Kungsholmen Project, social integration lengthened useful life even in those over 75 years of age. The study also demonstrated establishing a good social network reduces the chance of dreaded dementia by 60%. It deposits cash in your mental bank. MENTAL CASH is GOOD.
Resilience is a personality characteristic that strongly promotes longevity. Being able to roll with the punches of life is important in reducing the harmful stress life imposes. Support from others, (friends in particular) is remarkably stress-busting, and friends are created and retained by socialization. Some of the unhappiest people I have encountered are those who believe life has been unfair to them; life is a stage, a medium for us to act our parts and at best learn. LEARN! To expect rewards and punishments in harmony with how good or bad we consider our behavior is absurd. As Shakespeare had Hamlet so ably observe, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Appreciation of those you surround yourself with is important. How many of us wish we had voiced more appreciation to those departed? Don’t continue that mistake. Actively appreciate your friends and loved ones, especially those you have chosen as partners in life. Genuine appreciation is a coin of great value with two sides—contentment for the recipient and giver as well. Like an echo, kind words come back. The Bible instructs, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). Attentive, responsive, approachable, outgoing, and social are synonyms of friendly.
If you want to be liked by others, sow each relationship’s soil with kindness. Kindnesses are especially effective when they are a surprise. Every once in awhile, when I am down, I drive to Starbucks, order a double espresso, and hand an extra $10 for the next patron’s coffee. My mood elevates from just imagining how that simple gesture makes someone else feel. Unanticipated kindnesses are even more rewarding when given to a friend.