Archive | August 2010

Institutionalize Happiness for Health

For as long as I’ve had the Internet, there has been a constant stream of research about happiness parading through my feed reader. The most impactful trigger of happiness seems to revolve around the quality of relationships that we cultivate with partners, families and friends. While that is just a scientific confirmation of age-old wisdom, the real interesting bits come from how happiness affects your health (stolen from WebMD):

• Get sick less often
• Less depression and substance abuse
• Lower blood pressure
• Less anxiety
• Natural pain control
• Better stress management
• Faster healing
• Live longer

Starting to see where I’m going with this?

I haven’t written anything in a while, so I may be totally off. But I do know that this is the New Normal. We have a generation of people who are growing up focusing on themselves, which means their sense of empathy isn’t as well developed as their grandparents or people in past generations. Without empathy, you can’t relate to other people. It’s not to say these people don’t want to build relationships, because who doesn’t? We are fundamentally the same as we were before; but how we act on those wants and needs are different today and we may need a little push.

A good friend of mine from Singapore told me about LoveByte, which is essentially a government run match making service for college graduates. On the surface, it seems no better than your mom doing it for you, but I believe its ambitions are grander than we think: people in relationships build families and families build communities. Those pieces form the strong support networks that bring the health benefits I mentioned above.

The sooner we get past the stigma of being lonely, the sooner we can think of loneliness as a disease that can be treated. I believe that it’s in the government’s best interest to be proactive about helping their citizens build these relationships. It can be a very compelling preventative care initiative for health care programs because of the impact to our emotional and physical well-being.