I’ve been doing more reading than usual about happiness and talking to a lot of experts and people with letters after their name. A common truth keeps popping up:
Happiness is about connecting to other people.
One of the best indicators of happiness, according to all these books and experts, is how connected we feel to the people around us. Both the depth of your relationships and the number of connections you have can influence how happy you are. It’s people, more than things and even more than experiences, that make us happy.
This doesn’t surprise me. Looking back on over a year of happiness highlights, the bulk of my gratitude was tied to people. Jared and I have both noticed that when we feel disconnected, from each other or the community around us, we are the most unhappy. It was this need for connection that prompted us to move out of the RV and back into a home with actual neighbors.
After six months of living in Pittsburgh, we are all making new connections – and we’re definitely happier for it.
Devin is talking to us again and talking about friends and activities that go on outside of his room. It seems he’s finally starting to believe us that it’s safe to invest in the people here, and he’s joining and signing up and letting himself feel at home. I met a woman this weekend who said that she doesn’t get too close to people who aren’t from Pittsburgh, because it’s too hard when people keep leaving. Her confession helped me to finally understand why Devin had been holding his breath for so long. It’s good to seem him breathe again.
Jared and I attended a fundraiser for the kids’ school this weekend, an event I’ve been helping to plan for about five months now. I introduced him to parents I’ve worked with, we talked with teachers and staff, and we even met brand new people on our own.
You guys, I met people without needing to be introduced.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while – or followed me on twitter when I’ve attended any networking events – you’ll know this is big for me. If you haven’t, let me assure you: this is big for me. I’m scared to death of introducing myself to people, and I tend to assume that everyone else in the room is more comfortable than I am. But I keep showing up, because I refuse to be ruled by fear.
Because you can’t make connections if you don’t leave your house.
Jared and I had so much fun this weekend, and it reminded me how important connections are. It also reminded me that we can’t just add “make connections” to our list of things to do. Connections are tricky because we only control one half; we have to do our part and hope for the best.
We have to show up. We have to stretch. We have to be willing to be who we are if we have any hope of making authentic connections.
In our attempts to meet people since moving here, we’ve fallen on our face a few times. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth countless times, accidentally revealed embarrassing stories before remembering they’re embarrassing, and admitted to wearing homemade deodorant in public. Jared wore swim goggles on his head for half the night at this elegant event Saturday, because he’d been given them in exchange for donating to a pool project and because he is just goofy enough to wear goggles on his head while wearing dress pants. A few people teased him, but he didn’t seem to care.
On the way home, I told him I was actually proud of him for leaving them on, as ridiculous as he looked. “I’m not in high school anymore,” he said, which is kind of an ironic defense for wearing swim gear to a formal party, but it made perfect sense.
Happiness is about connecting, and connecting is about having the guts to keep putting yourself out there over and over again in the hopes that someone else will do the same. And when that happens, it feels like magic.