Happiness Is Connecting, and Connecting Is Showing Up, Sometimes with Goggles on Your Head

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.

happiness is connecting

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.

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  1. Nanna says:

    Love this to the moon – and especially Jared.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Home Sweet Home

  2. daniel says:

    There is so much truth in that sentiment. So much of schoolwork is simply showing up, because you can’t do the assignment if you’re not there to know what it is. You are not going to see the movie on time, or even late, if you never get out of the house. Showing up is so important. And when it comes to “showing up” to/for other people, that’s when your fears kick in. Sometimes it really comes down to baby steps. You don’t need to overcome your fears of interaction by taking on a public speaking role, but attend a conference. It’s okay to sit in the back the first time. Going was an accomplishment. Next time, sit a little further up. It’s that constant forward motion we need, don’t let that fear stagnate you.
    daniel’s most recent post: Season Of Paul?

  3. Crystal says:

    What a beautifully written piece.

    I find I’ve isolated myself so much because I get hurt so easily and I’m always afraid that people are, in general, better than me. That I don’t deserve happiness and friendships.

    I might just find something to do that involves me a bit more with other people. Maybe that’s why I’m always so unhappy, because I’m always alone.

    • Miss Britt says:

      We each have varying needs for connection, I think, but yeah – we all need some at least. And yet it can be SO damn scary. Especially because it doesn’t always work out. I mean, this is one of those things that you don’t even want to recommend to people because it can hurt so bad. Jared hasn’t really gotten out a lot here, but I don’t want to push and then be responsible for him getting hurt.

      The hurt is kind of inevitable when you’re dealing with people.

      I guess you have to have faith that it’s worth it, eventually.

  4. Lisa says:

    It’s so great that you guys are getting involved in your community, and especially that Devin is finally getting comfortable. It’s hard, but so necessary. I need to do more of that I think.
    Lisa’s most recent post: On the Upside of a Downward Spiral

  5. Allyson says:

    I’m not good at meeting people. I’m unusual. I don’t fit into a comfortable box. It’s hard to find common ground with strangers because I am at once laid back and casual, and OCD and strict about discipline. I am a Republican, and I’m socially liberal. I am an atheist, and I practice lent (for self-control reasons).

    I have lived in Florida for five years, and the only friends I have made have been bloggers, and even then, I’m not sure the friendship goes both ways. But now, both of my boys are in school. They are making friends, and through them I am getting friendly with the parents of those friends. I still can’t say any of those parents are my friends in the way that I would normally define the word, but it’s a beginning. And it’s exciting. And it has encouraged me to do the thing I hate most in the world – keep a clean house so I can feel comfortable inviting them over for coffee and playdates. I hope that by the time another five years in this state have passed, I will be able to count several of these other parents as true friends. But, it is scary to not know what they say about us as they drive home from our house, because I have never been anybody’s favorite person, and I don’t know if I even can be.

  6. “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.”
    Authentic connections.
    So timely and relevant Britt, in today’s networking obsessed world.
    Sulagna – Keep your relationship exciting’s most recent post: My Valentine’s Day 3: “I Give You Time Till Valentine’s Day Midnight to Come Back”, Anwesha’s Open Letter

  7. Megan says:

    I need to know more about the homemade deodorant and why it was a faux pas to mention it (especially if it was working).

    I’ll be printing this and tucking it away for later, when I’ll surely need it. I’m not good at meeting new people either. I have a bad habit of simply observing (the writer in me I guess) instead of engaging.
    Megan’s most recent post: Ice Water

  8. [...] desperation to be seen is really a burning need to connect. When people see us and hear us, a connection is made. But the simple truth that’s easy to [...]

  9. Melanie says:

    Interesting observations. Had I never read this I would assume that you were confident and outgoing and met random strangers all the time and had people knocking down your door to make plans. Often I feel this same way and people often prerceive me to be very outgoing and confident also. For what it is worth I thought many people would be wearing their goggles! I was so glad Jared did. It told me everything I needed to know to immediately like him. Our committee loves you and I felt privledged to work with you! I feel like I have a new friend. Thanks.

    • Miss Britt says:

      AH! How cool to see you comment here!

      Yes, people are often surprised to learn how terrified I am of meeting new people. Once I get talking I have a hard time shutting up, but that first reach out scares me. It’s actually one of the reasons I showed up to that P4P meeting; figured it would be a good way to meet people. So glad I did! :-)

  10. [...] This, I think, is the heart of connection. [...]

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