Often when we think about wellbeing, we think about our individual wellbeing, in terms of how good we feel, how satisfied we are with our lives, and how well we are functioning in different areas. Did you know that social relationships and interactions contribute a great deal to our wellbeing and go a step further to include our relationships with our communities and social structures? Positive relationships (friends, family, loved ones) and connecting with larger systems (workplace, clubs, community) is the feature of this month’s positivity project.
I’ve been reading a book lately about the once famous Elaine’s restaurant in NYC. The owner, Elaine Kaufman, was a social and relationship icon from the 1960s to early 2000s. People came to Elaine’s to connect with friends and colleagues. Tables were numbered by the locals who sat there, often celebrities like Woody Allen, Michael Caine, and the like. Elaine protected her patrons from the paparazzi and tourists so that they felt safe and at ease in her restaurant. She helped many people grow their careers and was matchmaker to many as well. People mourned when she eventually closed the restaurant for good in 2010. Memoirs showed that people went to Elaine’s for more than a meal or a drink. They went there for connection, for friendship. Many felt the place was like family.
Another example a little closer to home is my local hairstylist. The owner wanted to make a difference locallyand joined the board of a community non-profit that is working with others to purchase Pods to shelter people experiencing homelessness. Customers of her spa that wish to support her efforts can make contributions through a websiteand the non-profit will match the donations. It’s another great example of connecting with others in the community to benefit the larger system. For my part, being a part of something bigger than myself feels really good.
Connection in the workplace also contributes to our wellbeing. Caring and compassion at work can yield individual benefits in terms of better physical and mental health and decreased stress. According to Carmeli, Brueller and Dutton (2009) high-quality relationships have three key functional features:
- High emotional carrying capacity for positive and negative emotions
- High flexibility in the face of adversity and change
- High connectivity and openness to new ideas and influences
Positive relationships contribute to growth and trust and help develop organizational attributes like emotional literacy, openness and connection. One of the practices the positivity project encourages is loving kindness meditation which builds up our employees in an emotional capacity and enables flexibility and openness to new ideas. This has shown to enhance and sustain job satisfaction
I’m sure you have examples of ways you connect with others in your work teams and your communities. I’d love to hear about them! We can all learn and grow from each other.