By nature, humans are social beings. Our inherent need for interpersonal connection is encoded in our neurobiologic framework. According to Matthew Lieberman, author of “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect”, even at rest our brains activate a social cognition network that promotes understanding and empathy for others. Interactions with friends, family, community members, and even strangers can provide individuals with a sense of connectedness. Lieberman further explains that investing in the welfare of others through shared social connection may generate more happiness than individual self-interest.
Emma Seppala, director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), identifies social connection as an integral aspect of physical health as well as mental and emotional well-being. Seppala specifies that a large number of social relationships does not necessarily equate to a stronger sense of closeness and belonging, emphasizing the importance of relationship quality over quantity. Mental Health America breaks down the essence of meaningful social interactions into the following building blocks: concrete help, emotional support, perspective, advice, and validation. By sharing these experiences with others, individuals can create mutually fulfilling connections that have been linked to profound health benefits.