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 MeetUp.com. 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?