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The “We” in Wellness: Happiness as a Team Sport

Research indicates individuals are better together.

Key points

  • The proximity of others and social behavior fuels human development, health, and ultimately survival.
  • Having social connections maximizes positivity in good times and softens the blow in bad times.
  • Social media-based social support can decrease mental health-related symptomology, including anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

The modern priority on personal “wellness” is often discussed in terms of health and happiness, personally and professionally, and described as a state of feeling good physically, mentally, and emotionally. But how do you get there? Diet and exercise, intermittent fasting, Pilates, or something else?

However you strive to achieve wellness, the bottom line is that you don’t get there alone. Wellness is not a solitary pursuit; it involves energy and engagement with others. We grow through stimulation and encouragement, as inspiration fuels motivation.

The “we” in wellness reflects the reality that we enjoy success and safety in numbers. Whether we are seeking to lose weight or gain experience, pursuing goals mentally, physically, or emotionally, we are better together.

Source: naassomz1/Pixabay
Source: naassomz1/Pixabay

Public Pursuit of Personal Health

Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Andrew Steptoe (2022) investigated the adverse impacts of social isolation on physical health.[i] They note that studies indicate the importance of the actual presence of others in terms of proximity and regular contact, which can have powerful effects on health and well-being. They describe humans as a social species and recognize that the proximity of others and social behavior fuels our development, health, and ultimately survival. They note that studies show that even animals display the need for social contact, showing that when housed in isolation, they have a higher risk of adverse outcomes, including mortality, and negative health events, such as recovery from a stroke.

Want to Get Happy? Join the Club—Literally.

Other research has explored other benefits of approaching wellness as a team sport. Shelly L. Gable and Alisa Bedrov (2022) examined the impact of social isolation and social support.[ii] They found, perhaps not surprisingly, that individuals who are lonely or socially isolated report lower levels of social support. They explain that having supportive social networks can help us weather the adverse effects of stressors and negative events. They add that having a supportive social network will help maximize the benefits of accomplishments and positive events. In other words, social connection works in both directions: maximizing positivity in good times and softening the blow in bad times.

Apparently, this phenomenon operates online as well. John Gilmour et al. (2020) examined the impact of Facebook-based social support on health.[iii] Examining 27 studies, they found that Facebook-based social support improved general physical and mental health, in addition to well-being. It decreased mental health-related symptomology, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, and online victimization. They note that behavioral factors influenced these outcomes, including communication competence, social comparison, and self-disclosure.

Strength in Numbers

Whether you envision wellness as breaking free from addictions or bad habits and creating new ones, decreasing stress, or adding periods of peace, your journey will involve other people. Whatever the goal, there is strength in numbers. Make it a priority to spend time with your social circle, both on and offline, and prepare to experience your best life together.


[i] Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, and Andrew Steptoe. 2022. “Social Isolation: An Underappreciated Determinant of Physical Health.” Current Opinion in Psychology 43 (February): 232–37. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.07.012.

[ii] Gable, Shelly L., and Alisa Bedrov. 2022. “Social Isolation and Social Support in Good Times and Bad Times.” Current Opinion in Psychology 44 (April): 89–93. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.08.027.

[iii] Gilmour, John, Tanya Machin, Charlotte Brownlow, and Carla Jeffries. 2020. “Facebook-Based Social Support and Health: A Systematic Review.” Psychology of Popular Media 9 (3): 328–46. doi:10.1037/ppm0000246.