The Hard Facts: Join Any Club That Will Have You As A Member

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that what the inner mind really wants is connection. It’s a Wonderful Life was right. Joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income.” (“Social Animal” by David Brooks, The New Yorker, 1/17/2010)

Um, that is a ridiculously eye-opening statistic.

I’ve always been a big believer in joining as it pertains to making friends. Groups provide a necessary consistency. The assurance that you will see someone every month at book club or in your cooking group makes it easier to climb the acquaintance-to-friend-to-BFF ladder.

Joining also presents you with an opportunity to meet like-minded people. Since the old “birds of a feather flock together” saying is proven to be true, other chess players/knitters/runners might be your best BFF prospects.

So sure. Joining is great—especially for someone on a BFF search.

But what if you aren’t on a BFF search? Well, turns out you should join a group too.

Attending a meeting of your Jenga Fan Club once a month isn’t a huge commitment. It’s one two-hour(ish) chunk out of a four week span. And yet it will make you feel as if you earn double your money. That’s pretty remarkable.

My happiness has certainly been increased by the groups I belong to. Aside from providing me with new friends, my book clubs/dinner club/improv class make me feel a part of a community. And they give me a necessary break from the chaos of deadlines and workdays. I feel noticeably lighter after an evening spent in the company of my fellow “members.”

My next question is this: If I belong to four groups, will it quadruple my income? And if one of those groups meets once a week instead of once a month, will it multiply that quadrupled income by another four? Eight times my current cash flow?? I know, I’m getting greedy. I can’t help it.

If you are reading this post and thinking “But I can’t find a group to join,” I have two words for you: Start one.

When I lived in New York, I started my first book club. In Chicago, I started my cooking club. It’s easy enough. First, decide what you are interested in. Then invite two other people who are interested in the same thing. Ask those two people to each invite two people. There! You’ve got a group of seven. If you don’t know two people who want to participate in your Laser Tag League, start a group on It’s a great resource for self-organizing.

I’m often asked my advice for someone who wants to launch a (less elaborate) BFF search of their own, and joining is always at the top of my list (along with saying yes and telling everyone you know that you’re looking). But that’s all anecdotal. Now I have the official research to back me up. Love it.

What kind of groups do you belong to? Do you think the “double your income” comparison is right on? And if you don’t have a group, what kind would you want to start?


Filed under The Search

8 responses to “The Hard Facts: Join Any Club That Will Have You As A Member

  1. I am in a book club and I love it. We meet twice a month (because the group was getting so big, we all couldn’t fit at the place we meet, so now we read two books a month and you either come to one or both). It was the best decision I made to join. Not only have I read books I’d have never picked up or even heard of, I’ve made some forever friends as well. We meet out side of book club constantly and have movie nights that go with books we’ve read. I’m definitely going to look for a new book club when I move to Texas this summer. Maybe I’ll be just as lucky again.

    • TC

      Quick question…how did you choose your book club? I’m an avid reader so I have thought of book clubs before, but I don’t know how to get involved. Most of my local friends aren’t book types. If you have any suggestions how to join one, please let me know. Thanks!

      • I’ll chime in here too… I found my book clubs in Chicago by asking around. When I first moved here the friends I had weren’t interested in a book club and I went a little more than two years without one. And then I just being very vocal about wanting to join one. I ended up getting an invitation from a colleague of my husband. She was talking about her book club and Matt said “Rachel’s been dying to join one!” and that was that! Also, I know that a lot of people have had success finding book clubs on sites like MeetUp and Craigslist. MeetUp has a lot that are themed, like if you want to read specifically YA or Classics….

  2. diana

    i have been somewhat disappointed with my book club….there is a lot of small talk..hard to keep on track with the book….but since there is a huge economic difference between myself and the group i can’t participate in the small talk!
    i’m going to take knitting classes…hopefully better luck there

  3. I joined the Chicago Knitters Unite group, and while I don’t go consistently, even just knowing that there IS a meet-up each week I could go to makes me feel better!

    I also joined my local Toastmasters, both to meet people after moving here and also because I’d like to be a better speaker and leader. Our meetings are pretty structured, but I’ve made some friends and tonight, a group of us is going to see “The King’s Speech” as a club outing. It’s also where I found out about the Hash House Harriers… 🙂

  4. Lorrie Paige

    I belong to two library book groups (at the same library, but different theme) and a meditation group. I may be joining a third book group at the same library! A new one is forming by the end of the year.

    I’ve tried having my own book group. It wasn’t successful, but may have been because it was too esoteric. I wanted to start a Traveling book group, where we read novels and memoirs about travelers all over the world, and possibly go to some places that we’ve read, if possible, especially local places.

    But I also wanted to start a chick-lit book group but it just wasn’t popular enough, and the chick lit book groups in my town that exist are struggling a bit.

    I LOVE library book groups. They provide the book and its given out on the *honor system* so there is no due date like if we were to get it through regular means in the library. Also it’s local–walking distance, and libraries have good clout in getting authors to come in to discuss their book we are reading.

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