Humans are genetically designed to be social, to crave companionship and connection with others. Studies reveal that this is not just a theory, but in fact creating social connections with others can have significant physiological and psychological benefits for a person’s health. These benefits include longevity, higher immunity to disease, less chances of anxiety and depression as well as better emotional regulation skills. (1)
It all comes down to a term coined in the 50s, called homophily. Essentially what this means is that people are attracted to groups of people they have things in common with and when they form a group they tend to encourage and intensify those common characteristics. For example, if you join a group of runners, you are more likely to get really into running as the rest of the group is passionate about it. Being part of a team can not only increase a person’s motivation to achieve their goals but also improve the results of the team effort. The members of the team share their emotions and motivation and that makes them work harder and for longer hours to be as best as they can.
Homophily can also have the reverse effects on a group. If your group of friends smokes or drinks a lot you are also more likely to take up smoking and drinking even put on weight once a friend you’re close to does so. This makes it even more important to pick the people you keep around you carefully. Being around positive people means that the chances of you feeling more positive in life increase, while your negative emotions and anxiety levels decrease in turn. The power of positive social connections doesn’t stop there. Studies have shown the relation between social relationships and the risk of mortality as well as how loneliness can lead to sleep deprivation and affect the immune system of an individual. By increasing your social circle you can avoid these health risks, making you a healthier and happier person.
When you combine the results of the above studies, the power of social connections with positive people becomes clear. By forming any kind of social connection with other people you can avoid the health risks associated with loneliness. But when these people are also positive and motivated they can encourage you to become better, be happier, healthier and have higher self esteem and empathy.