The Profound Impact of Human Connection

Many people are so unhappy that they find a therapist or counselor to work through their struggles. Plenty more people are content enough with their lives. But some are truly happy. Where does that happiness come from? Does money buy it? Self-confidence? Safety? Support systems? A fulfilling job? Pets? Everyone’s combination of life experience is different, but repeated studies have identified that some groups tend to be happier than others. Recent studies have looked a bit closer at the happiness quotient of two specific (though very different) groups: people who live in “walkable” neighborhoods, and people who are involved in church. Both had one major factor in common: human relationships.

First, churchgoers. Religion’s “secret ingredient” for making people happy, says the study, is the social ties people build when involved in a religious community. This is not to say that private spirituality is without positive psychological value; past studies have found that spirituality reduces both stress and depression. But those who attend church and build relationships there are consistently happier than those who attend and do not build relationships. Second, the study on walkable neighborhoods and well-being. Walkable neighborhoods provide easy access to post offices, parks, restaurants, playgrounds, barbershops, and club meeting venues. People who live in walkable neighborhoods tend to build “social capital” – they are more likely to meet people, become involved in community volunteer work, build relationships through that work, and ultimately feel happier.

Human connection brings complex values to our lives: relationships give us a sense of belonging in the group, a sense of identity in contrast to others in that group, an almost therapeutic-support system, and reason not to feel lonely. We learn from others’ experiences and insight, and we learn together by pursuing new experiences alongside those we befriend. And on a very basic level, therapy involves this principle as well. Sitting and reading a book about psychology will rarely be as beneficial as sitting and talking with a therapist or counselor. It’s the interactive exchange that makes all the difference.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Kaye

    December 10th, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    I always feel better when I’ve been out and about, connecting with people. We are social animals after all. So much of what we used to do that created natural situations for connection has fallen by the wayside. We don’t chat in the queue at the Post Office anymore because we pay our bills online and have no need to buy stamps. I miss those small moments.

  • michael vaughan

    December 10th, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    the power of human connections cannot be under-estimated…if counseling and therapy are the cure for mental issues then connecting and communicating and socializing(the real way,not just online) are its preventive steps…and as they say-prevention is better than cure ;)

  • Charles

    December 10th, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I miss those kinds of mini chats too Kaye, but I’m not willing to join a church primarily for the social side. That’s asking too much.

  • Joan

    December 10th, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I remember when almost every neighborhood was a walkable neighborhood. It’s the complete opposite now and that’s sad. You can’t connect if you’re too scared to leave your apartment unattended or worrying about who’s out there on the streets.

  • Allie

    December 10th, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Joan, you’re right. Our fear is diminishing how far we tread beyond our doorstep. I don’t smile at strangers like I used to either. How much are we missing out on by not taking that chance? A potential best friend could walk past us for good. Perhaps we’re blowing our fears out of proportion.

  • SD

    December 10th, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    …and as we progress and become more and more modern human connections are on the decline.what a pity.

  • Josh

    December 10th, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    “But those who attend church and build relationships there are consistently happier than those who attend and do not build relationships.” That speaks volumes about why religion’s influence is dropping like a stone today. Religion alone can’t cut it.

  • jake

    December 11th, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    The church understood the power of social networking long before Facebook, Twitter et al did. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in community spirit that just happens to be centered around a place of worship. God makes us happy!

  • Glen

    December 11th, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    God makes you happy? That’s good. Yeah, for you that works. A night out with friends, popcorn and a good movie makes me happy. However you don’t see me prostrating myself on the steps of the movie theater.

  • monica

    December 11th, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    I don’t go to church as a rule but at Christmas, I attend the watchnight service. Even an old cynic like me can’t fail to be moved by the love you can feel in the room. That’s what Christmas is really about.

  • Ted

    December 11th, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    If we had more cops on the beat, we’d have more walkable neighborhoods again. When was the last time you saw a cop that wasn’t driving a patrol car or on a motorcycle? I haven’t since I was a kid. We behaved and our neighbor was safe precisely because you never knew if there was a cop about to walk around the corner or listening over your shoulder. That connection is a big loss because he was also your friend and protector. Now I couldn’t name one officer in our local police dept.

  • hannah

    December 13th, 2010 at 5:45 AM

    IT IS that human connection that makes so many people so much happier than others! Finding a niche that works for you and is there for you is crucial for a happy and healthy life.

  • human connection

    December 23rd, 2010 at 5:06 AM

    I think human connection is most important among many persons because it provides a high life style and happy and happy life.

  • sukh

    April 26th, 2016 at 12:28 AM

    I don’t know man. i mean i look at all these people who have no depth at all. They exist on physical realm only. They lack the creativity to say sensible things and all they care about is how people react to them. They will wear uncomfortable clothes and go around telling jut how beautiful the fabric. i pray that i have the power to get rid of all kind of human connections. i simply feel that i belong in individaulism. when i dont need people to make me feel the things i want to there is absolutely no reason that i maintain connection with such people. This basically what Ayn Rand said. Second handedness versus Independence

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