What's the most important factor for happiness? This is a question I get daily, if not hourly. Here is the answer: friends. And family. Happiness is being socially connected. The best predictor of happiness (and often health) is the quantity and quality of a person's social ties. (And I'm not talking about Facebook here, though I do think that online social networks can provide rich opportunities for real-life connections.) We can teach kids the skills they need to create and maintain lots of strong social connections, and we can rig their environment to make a dense web of relationships possible. The video and post below will give you some ideas about how!
On this topic on the Greater Good blog: A review of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler.
This content is a part of the Raising Happiness e-newsletter, which currently comes out once a month (but we're striving to make it twice a month after the website relaunch in a few weeks). If you don't currently get the Raising Happiness e-newsletter but would like to, please sign up by clicking here.
Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, whose mission it is to teach skills for a thriving, resilient and compassionate society. Best known for her science-based parenting advice, Dr. Carter follows the scientific literature in neuroscience, sociology, and psychology to understand ways that we can teach children skills for happiness, emotional intelligence, and resilience. She is the author of the new book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and of a blog called Half Full. Dr. Carter also has a private consulting practice helping families and schools structure children's lives for happiness; she lives near San Francisco with her family.