As you go about your day, you interact with family, friends and coworkers. These relationships can help you feel connected and cared for, allowing you to experience meaning in life.
But what if there’s a whole category of people in your life whose impact is overlooked? In addition to strong social connections, longevity researcher Susan Pinker shows that the strongest predictor of longevity (stronger than quitting smoking or drinking alcohol) is social integration: how much you casually interact with people (including strangers) throughout your day. Think about a small chat with the cashier, the bartender or the mailman, or smiling at someone unknown if you pass them on the street. In addition, small interactions with people you barely know also make you feel happier.
So if you’re heading home after work, and you’re looking for some happiness, think about chatting and interacting with someone you don’t or barely know. How? Psychologist Gillian Sandstrom reveals some simple ways to make your life a little more joyful and maybe even a little less lonely in this podcast.