Do We Need Other People To Be Happy?

Song Kang, Lee Do Hyun, Song Kang and Lee Do Hyun Elle Magazine

Throughout history, there have been people who were able to live alone and generate happiness from within. However, as a social species, these individuals were always rare. The vast majority of us need other humans around us to feel complete.This notion is rooted in our biology. Whenever we come into contact with others, our bodies and brains release hormones like oxytocin that help make the bond stronger.

Humans are quite different in this sense from virtually every other creature in the animal kingdom. While animals tend to fare well by themselves, we don’t. We need other people to meet both our physical and emotional needs. Being alone can take its toll on your health. Those who lack social support or live isolated lives away from the rest of the community report worsened physical and emotional health. So, in short, the answer is yes, we do need other people to be happy. But there are very specific reasons why.

We Prefer To Go Through Life In The Company Of Others
While there are some instances of people living alone for large portions of their lives, the vast majority of us need to be around others. As such, there is now substantial evidence that we prefer to go through life in the company of others. But what’s the science behind this? The theory is that we form relationships with others because we see it as a way to reduce the risks that we face. So, for instance, we build a group of people around us called our friends who are there to lend a helping hand when we need it. We also build families because that is a way of sharing the burden of responsibilities. Experiments seem to back this up. It turns out that we enjoy experiences more when holding somebody’s hand or being in the company of others. We also see the world as less dangerous when we are in the company of others.

Our Brains Work Better
Interestingly, the quality of thinking also improves when we spend time around others. Social interaction is a surprisingly complex task - much harder objectively speaking than fixing a car. Yet it comes to us so easily. Listening and participating in two-person conversations is actually much less demanding than giving a speech, despite what we now know about language. Thus, the social benefits of healthy hearing are potentially enormous. People who look after their ears into older age are much more likely to be happy.

We Need It To Lower Stress Hormones
Lastly, having other people around seems to improve our health substantially. Studies show that being in the presence of others lowers our stress hormones and reduces our cardiovascular disease risk. Furthermore, being in positive relationships can help foster healthy eating and exercise, encouraging us to do things that we wouldn’t do alone. Research going back more than fifty years shows that people with less developed social networks tend to die younger of any cause. And those with stronger social ties are up to 50 percent more likely to survive in any given year.

This is a contributed post.
Photo: Song Kang & Lee Do Hyun in Elle Korea


Emmylou said...

I've always thought I'm one of those people who don't really need to be around other people much. I've always been an introvert even as a child and would rather be with books than people. I just realized however, that I had my family that kept me company and now, with covid, I think I would've gone insane without my hubby and kids, and my uber small group of friends.

Jackie Harrison said...

Sorry been missing your post got left eye surgery will be working on my right eye next so I been away from media and internet and will again next week when my right eye get done. Wanted to give u a head up. These guys are to handsome.

Ivana Split said...

That's very interesting how our brains work better in company of others!