Chatting your Way to Work..or Does Reaching Out make Us Stronger, and Happier, or Grumpier?
My husband is a master of what I call small social interactions. Yesterday, on his 7 mile commute to work, he had 3.
He stops for tea every morning at the same drive up, gets gas at the same full service station, and picks up his dry cleaning at, of course, at the the same dry cleaner.
He chats for a few moments with the attendant at each location, and then moves on. My husband is a pretty happy guy, and it turns out that these small interactions are actually contribute to his well being and even help him to be healthier.
In study published in the Journal of Experimental Psycholgy in 2014, a group of researchers looked at the interactions of 118 Chicago commuters. Those commuters who reported that they had engaged in conversations, small social interactions, with strangers during their commute had significantly more positive commutes than the control group who spent their time reading or on their phones. And that positive actually stayed around, supporting people to experience more positive emotions all day.
I am one who tends to keep her head down, and not engage while going about errands in the busy city where I live. After reading that study, I recalled other similar findings from Positive Psychology literature. Did you know that people who have more social connections actually also report more upbeat emotions experience better physical health?
So , I’m running an experiment for 7 days and will let you know the results! Is it fun and up lifting to reach out to strangers, or I have received one to many “Have a nice day” responses, and actually feel grumpier?