Think about the most important relationships in your life. What are the characteristics of the people to whom you feel closest? Happy couples describe their partners as interested and responsive. Besides existing relationships, curious people act in certain ways with strangers that allow relationships to develop more easily. Research shows that curious people ask questions and take an interest in learning about partners, and intentionally try to keep interactions interesting and playful. Here are a couple of things we now about social relationships. In a recent blog in
Scientific American magazine, Ingrid Wickelgren writes: people who are a part of a group are also far better equipped to conquer an internal foe—the threat of bad health.
In one of the recent studies the health benefits of social relationships, published earlier this year, researchers provided evidence that social ties and increased contact with family and friends are associated with a lower risk of death in young women with breast cancer. Another presented a similar conclusion with respect to surviving heart surgery. What’s more, a 2010 meta-analysis of 148 other studies showed that social connection doesn’t just help us survive health problems: the lack of it causes them.
She goes on: Many languages have expressions such as “hurt feelings” that compare the pain of such social rejection to the pain of physical injury. We now know that those are more than just metaphors: there are two components to physical pain, an unpleasant emotional feeling, and a feeling of sensory distress, associated with different structures in the brain.
Social pain is also associated with a particular brain structure, this connection between physical and social pain reflect s the tie between social connection and the physiological processes of the body.”
So the health message is clear – reach out socially, you’ll engage your curious self, minimize the pain of social isolation, and live more fully. As John Lennon wrote so poetically, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ? John Lennon