The Science Of Happiness

Photo by Helena Lopes licensed under CC0
The Science Of Happiness
By Allen Romero

The science is clear. It is our close relationships that keep us happier and healthier as we age.

As children our friendships come easy in the neighborhood, on the field or in the classroom. As adults, our lives are more complex as our families expand and our careers take us in new directions.

While technology keeps us ever connected, the hard truth is that our online posts, likes and comments cannot replace the shared laughter or embrace of a friend that we experience in person.

Wealth And Health In Friendship

Research from Harvard and UNC concur that people who have both strong friendships and who regularly spend time with their friends, report a greater sense of happiness, are healthier and live longer.

Dr. Robert Waldinger, a Harvard professor and psychiatrist, recently detailed Harvard's learnings in a wonderful TED talk on happiness. At almost 80 years and running, this is the longest study on adult life ever done. The study reveals that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Simply put, embracing community helps us live longer and be happier.

"The clearest message we learn from this 75 year study. Good relationships keep us happier and healthier period." - Dr. Robert Waldinger
Invest In Friendship
Photo by Tatiana Vavrikova licensed under CC0

Friendship In America

While friendship and community help keep us happy, the reality of modern life is that finding time for friends, and making new ones as an adult, is challenging. The other reality is that as a population, we are living more alone.

U.S. Census data shows that 28% of the U.S. now lives alone, up from 10% in 1960. Additionally, a 2015 gallup poll reports that the number of individuals that live alone in major U.S cities is trending much higher, at 48% in New York City, 45% in Atlanta and 40% in San Francisco.

With strong bonds and strong communities serving as the foundational basis for our happiness, the state of social isolation in the U.S. is cause for concern. A 2006 paper, by Duke University and The University of Arizona, highlight significant changes in the social fabric of America between 1985 and 2004.

During this time, the number of people that report there is no one with whom they can discuss important matters nearly tripled. Overall, the average number of confidants U.S. Americans hold, that is folks we can talk to about topics like death, cancer and the like, significantly decreased from 2.98 to 2.04.

Time With Friends

While adult life often presents logistical challenges to meet up, the great news is that we can shape our future by ensuring we invest in our social bonds. This requires taking initiative and time to nurture our relationships by reaching out and inviting our friends for a walk, a hike or anything really.

It may be obvious that you can text, call or e-mail your friends when you want to hang out, however, common knowledge is not always common practice. With increasing responsibilities, developing our friendships as an adult takes work. We have to remember to invite that new friend we met at the gym or at the office out to do something. We often simply reach out to our closest friends and forget to cultivate the new ones.

Making It Easy

Juggling a demanding work schedule at Google from 2003-2009, coupled with a three hour a day commute, I witnessed firsthand the reality of these challenges in my own life and built the Hang Local app with all of this in mind.

After adding friends or acquaintances from your contact book that you want to see more as Buddies, Hang Local makes it easy to both invite and to remember who to invite to hang out when you're free.

Get started by adding between 10 to 20 Buddies that you want to see or get to know better. If you don't have that many friends where you live, then simply invite the people that you do know to hang out more. You'll be surprised how many new friends you start making as great people know great people.