Having arrived in the US 13 years ago from Mexico, the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving— is still a relatively new tradition for me. And yet, it has become one of my absolute favorites.Although in recent years Americans have been divided over how best to honor and portray the holiday’s controversial origins, I believe we must […]
We are creatures of habit. We tend to interact with the same people regularly, often limiting ourselves to those who live in our neighborhood or work near us. When we venture out into new territory, it is usually for reasons that have little to do with meeting new people. A trip to the grocery store or gas station can provide opportunities for conversation and connection that might not be available elsewhere.
One of the most important aspects of living happily is social interaction – whether it’s spending time with family and friends or striking up conversations with strangers at the grocery store! Some people tend to be vigilant when it comes to strangers, but researchers recommend letting your guard down a little more to help improve your mental well-being.
A new study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found that people enjoy talking to strangers. Participants in the study went through a series of experiments that included discussing small-talk to personal details of their lives. Before the conversations, participants felt like they could not connect to a total stranger and felt awkward. Afterward, participants reported feeling the complete opposite and preferred more intimate conversations over small talk with strangers.
Is it because people feel like strangers are more approachable? Or is it because people feel less judged by someone who doesn’t know them well enough to form an opinion of their personality?
Whatever the reason, talking with strangers can boost your happiness. All you need to do is start a conversation. The rest comes naturally after that first step!
“Connecting with others in meaningful ways tends to make people happier, and yet people also seem reluctant to engage in deeper and more meaningful conversation,” said study co-author Nicholas Epley.
He continues, “This research helps explain why people are reluctant to connect with others in meaningful ways, and also helps us identify the psychological benefits of doing so.”
In America, one in five adults will experience mental illness every year, accounting for 20 percent of the total population. Mental illness rates will continue to rise in America since we spend more time indoors and are less engaged in social interactions. The pandemic has played a considerable role in the overall increase in mental illness across America, given the strict lockdown measures at the beginning that kept everyone from interacting with others. As a society, we became more and more disconnected, which increased illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Now that things are returning to ‘normal,’ researchers encourage people to strike up a conversation with a stranger and see how it can benefit your life.
Studies on this topic have been conducted many times over the past few years. The results have shown that people who are more engaged in conversations with strangers tend to be happier and healthier than those who aren’t socially active.
The research suggests that the future of our health is tied to how much time we’re willing to spend with strangers daily, which might not be such an easy task when you factor in work hours, commute times and family life.
So the next time you get a chance to talk with someone new, don’t shy away from starting up a face-to-face chat! You might find yourself becoming happier as well!