Social abundance lies in creating vital, life-giving relationships with people and is a key to happiness. The world authority on happiness and well-being research, Dr. Ed Diener has studied 155 countries (99 percent of the world) and has come up with some very telling conclusions.
Strong, healthy social relationships are the one common denominator of all the happiest places on earth. For example, Latin American countries like Costa Rico are considered relatively happy. Supporting culture, large extended families, and numerous celebrations makes life enjoyable for them. Also noteworthy are the Masai, a small herding culture in Africa. They are a proud people who have high self-esteem as they are self-sustaining, able to live off the land, and they enjoy their social relationships.
Learning from the world’s happiest countries
The world’s happiest countries are:
8. New Zealand
11. United States
Role of social media
With the advent of social media, social abundance is becoming tricky to obtain. Designed to be physically present with people, we lose much of the personal touch in spending time with our friends and family on Facebook or on the phone texting.
One consequence of social media is the danger some relationships end up in due to networking on the plethora of sites available on the internet.
Quoting Jonah Berger, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Desert News reports that “because there’s not a particular person in front of us, you don’t always think of the consequences of sharing things.” Berger contends, “When there is someone standing next to us, we realize the consequences. It’s a little harder to see the consequences of our actions” when communicating over the internet. From an old flame getting rekindled to gossip seperating lovers, the word “Facebook” was included in more than one-third of divorce filings last year, according to a survey done by Divorce Online and reported on by the Wall Street Journal. Social media, according Rachna Jain, a psychologist by training with clinical specialization in couple and marital therapy, “is definitely another distraction from primary relationships.”
Steps to building solid relationships
With these sobering facts in mind, we must focus on establishing meaningful relationships in ways that will prove to be sustainable.
- When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7) A solid walk with God is key to social abundance. Peace within ourselves, with our close friends/family, and with those with whom we do not readily get along with is only possible with His divine help and guidance.
- He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. (Proverbs 17:9) Don’t gossip, period. Nothing good can come from it. If you would not say something to someone’s face, then it shouldn’t be said behind his or her back.
- A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17) The Golden Rule, doing to others as we would have them do to us, is pivotal. Be the trust, faithfulness, and love that we want to see in our friends.
- A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) If you have two to three life-long relationships with people who are closer than family, then consider yourself blessed. Spending time with many people stretches us too thin. Remember that of the thousands Jesus ministered to on a daily basis, He focused His attention on just 12 disciples; and of those 12 He reserved a special place for Peter, James, and John as seen on the Mount of Transfiguration and other places.
Developing fruitful relationships takes time, energy, patience and focus. The result is well worth the effort!
Health coach, life coach, author and speaker, Eric L. Zielinski is a Chiropractor who continues to seek out ways to influence the world toward achieving the Abundant Life. Eric’s work can be seen in a wide variety of venues including Christian, health/wellness, and academic peer-reviewed literature. Eric lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Sabrina and three children.