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How social ties can influence our health, happiness

Relationships with friends and family enrich our lives and provide companionship, but they may also help us live a longer and happier life. In a recent article published on BeWell @ Stanford, Cecile Andrews, author and affiliated scholar with Stanford's Clayman Institute for Gender Research, discusses why social connections are important and how they can affect your health. Andrews writes:

In our crazy society, social ties are pretty far down on our “to do” lists, but connection to others is turning out to be more important than we thought. Studies indicate that “social capital” is one of the biggest predictors for health, happiness, and longevity....

One of my favorite books is The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, by Robert E. Lane, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale. His book brings together much of the research done on social capital over the last several years and shows how social ties not only affect our personal health, but also our societal health. He observes that as prosperity in a society increases, social solidarity decreases. Happiness not only declines, people become more distrustful of each other as well as their political institutions. Lane argues that we must alter our priorities; we must increase our levels of companionship even at the risk of reducing our income.

The rest of the entry is equally thought provoking, and it offers plenty of topics to reflect on as we approach the holiday.

Previously: Can good friends help you live longer?
Photo by Mark Cartwright

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