Humans are hyper-social creatures. Acknowledge this idea, implement it, and you can unlock infinite upgrades on your life. It’s astounding how powerful social experiences walk in lock-step to personal well-being.
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The natural limit on human organizations is 150. This is incredible against the backdrop of modern society and an awesome feat where millions of people live in mega cities like New York, Tokyo, Dubai.
That evolutionary limit on human organization has been broken by the technology of storytelling, allowing us to dominate the planet. “Sapiens” will elaborate more on the previous statement and do it more justice than I ever could. I highly recommend it.
Interestingly, 150 still plays a part in modern humanity. There is a cap on how many social relationships an individual can really keep up.
Overall though, most of us won’t ever approach the cap of 150 with deep, social bonds to that many people. It’s not necessary to approach the cap for great personal well-being but interesting to be aware of nonetheless.
The Best Moments in Life
Take a moment and look back on the best times in your life thus far. I would guess most, if not all of them, involve memories shared with others.
I know this is true for me and that’s coming from an introvert. No person in my life would ever call me an extrovert. My usual manner is reserved, listening until I feel my input would contribute.
Growing up, countless times I’ve experienced people telling me to speak. If you are an introvert, you have almost certainly experienced this.
Sidenote, absolutely the worst way to get a quiet or shy person to speak is to command that they speak.
A topic for another time, but it is actually easy to talk with shy people. You simply ask them questions about themselves or what they think about a topic. Being told to speak is an awful experience, and a form a social ostracism. Please don’t do it.
Social is Key
Back to it: I admittedly enjoy time by myself. I’m not uncomfortable sitting alone with my thoughts. I love small groups and 1-on-1 is my favorite type of relationship.
However, I’ve spent time where social interactions were too low and I’m not a fan. I think it’s programmed into our biology to go stir crazy if we’re all alone for too long.
Oddly, even strangers can lift that veil of loneliness. If you ever feel this type of way, going to a local diner, coffee shop or book store and doing your own thing there will help.
If you work from home, I would heartedly suggest having a regular routine of going to a public setting to work, over working in your house all day.
Routine can also train the mind to be more productive when in an environment that is habitual for a specific task or type of work, which is a nice benefit.
The Better Solution
If you agree that social experiences are one of life’s greatest pleasures, you should cultivate a lifestyle that makes high quality social interactions a regular occurrence.
You can program well-being into your life. Here are some recommendations:
Stay with me for a second if this is not your scene. My first recommendation is to start playing board games.
Traditionally, board games have been very niche and nerdy. The board game market has been on the rise during the past decade, but it has much more room to grow.
I’m not talking about Monopoly, Clue, or Life. We’ve all played those when we were younger, but there are hundreds of top-quality games you’ve never heard of. I’ve only played a handful of them.
I learned how to play Settlers of Catan, one of the most highly sold board games ever, 6 years ago and it kickstarted an obsession.
Late 2017, I tried Lords of Waterdeep and have since taught 20+ friends or familty. It’s a favorite and a great hook for new players. It does look intense at first, but mechanically it’s a simple game.
Recently, board game nights and days have embedded into my lifestyle. I play board games a couple times a month. I love it and assumedly my friends do too.
Board games really jive with my personality and make me feel less introverted. The reason is that there is always a fall back topic to talk about. The game.
Many games involve trading or persuasion which inspires game talk. And when the balls already rolling, conversations outside the game are easy too.
Everyone’s on their phones these days. It’s hard to put them down. It takes active effort to not be beholden to them and have more face-to-face interactions.
But board games are a great reason to take a phone break. If you are engaged by a board game, you’ll forget about your phone for 30-45 minutes.
I guarantee a weekly or monthly habit of a game night with friends or family will be far more rewarding than another night of Netflix or hours browsing Reddit.
Become aware of the group size you prefer and set up adventures with them.
Going to museums, food markets, antique shops, outlet malls, restaurants can all be fun activities.
It’s honestly less about the place you go to, at least for me, and really just having a new place to walk around and see while hanging out with friends you enjoy being around.
I will plug rock climbing specifically. Rock climbing is fantastic. It’s solving puzzles with your body. You slowly get better.
You may try a route, fail miserably time and time again on day one. And then 2 weeks later you try it again and crush it first try. It’s an awesome feeling.
I rock climb once a week. I invite a friend and each month it seems my rock climbing group slowly grows.
Let yourself enjoy them. Spending time with family and friends is important.
Be present, keep your phone on silent in your pocket or out of easy reach. Talk, be merry, have drinks and don’t be too hard on yourself for eating sweets. The more you enjoy your time with others, the more they will enjoy it too!
Nothing too revolutionary in the activities recommended, but this article was written to emphasize the importance of prioritizing social events in your life.
Everyday I get more convinced that “social” is queen and deserves more of my time or a larger budget.
Next article in this series will be strategies for programming more great social experiences into your life.
It’s a bit weird to program it. People don’t like hearing such a concept. But as a busy adult, if you don’t put thought into it, you’re just not gonna make time for it.
List of books that basically say “strong social relationships are key to human well being” or “pro-social behavior cultivates the good life”.