One of my goals this year is to improve my “social fitness,” a term coined by Dr. Robert Waldinger & Dr. Marc Schultz in their new book: The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. Available on January 10, the book distills the ongoing 85-year study tracking 724 participants and their descendants to determine what constitutes human happiness. One of the clear findings was that strong relationships and the bonds they create make for a happy life.
After experiencing a shift in my mental state due to pandemic isolation, losing friends to polarized politics, and adapting to plunging temperatures after a major move from a warmer clime, I discovered my “social fitness” factor had fallen into negative territory. Apparently, according to the above authors, social fitness, like physical fitness, can, if neglected, atrophy over time. Mine was as flabby as my arms and as weak as my cardio.
So when the New York Times’s Well desk offered subscribers the opportunity to participate in their 7-Day Happiness Challenge, I didn’t hesitate. What better way to start the New Year than to discover tools alleviating despair and the feeling, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling.
On today’s Day One, I completed a quiz to determine the strength (or lack thereof) of my relationships. As I suspected, outside of immediate family, and friends who live far from me, my score regarding relationships with neighbors or people living within my community, sucked.
How to remedy this? Simple. As an extroverted introvert, I’ve decided this is the year the extrovert in me will find an opportune moment to smother the introvert in me with a pillow. Then, maybe, I will find the courage to step out and create new connections. Stay tuned.
What are your 2023 goals?