Want to be happier? Try less tweeting, and more meeting. That’s the conclusion of a new report we found in the Christian Science Monitor. Experts say it’s becoming more common for people to communicate with each other these days using cell phones, email, Twitter and Facebook. However, with each new technology that comes along, meaningful conversation drops, and our happiness goes with it.
What makes for a “meaningful conversation”? Most psychologists define it as face-to-face talking, where people are sincere and authentic. That doesn’t include “small talk” about the weather. A recent study found that happy people generally engage in twice as many meaningful conversations as less happy people. Previous research has suggested that the key to a happy life is to be social not solitary. Now think about the last time you rode on a crowded bus or train. You probably saw people going out of their way to avoid conversation, as they sat quietly tapping a cell phone or iPod. Know this: Experts say total strangers can provide the most meaningful conversations. That’s because strangers are more willing to talk honestly about their hopes, fears, and frustrations. After all, you probably won’t see each other again, and you won’t be judged.
As an experiment, psychologist Michael Serota says he recently made a point of talking to at least one new stranger a day – like the people he stood in line with at the grocery store, or the coffee shop. He says after he introduced himself, he focused on asking these three questions:
- What’s on your mind today?
- What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
- What would you like to change in your life, or in the world?
Serota says a lot of people were hesitant to talk at first, but most of them welcomed the chance to open up and get things off their chests! According to this report, the more real conversations you have, the happier you’ll feel. Try it yourself.