Engaging in meaningful conversations can have a positive impact on satisfaction and happiness, according to a study published on Psychological Science in 2010. Those of us who have profound relationships with close friends are probably nodding in recognition. But why is that?
Groups of students wearing an intermittent recording device (EAR) were investigated for degree of fulfillment and happiness and their profiles were benchmarked against the recordings. Those who had more enriching conversations and profound exchanges were generally found to be happier than those whose days were filled with idle chit-chat.Does it mean that profound conversations are a recipe for happiness? A positive correlation in a study is not sufficient to prove a point. The results could be coincidental. Or maybe the results can be explained by the fact that happy people have energy for profound discussion, while unhappy people do not crave or are not invited to join meaningful exchanges.
Our intuition tells us that these results make some sense. Yet intuition is known to fail us in the most surprising circumstances and there can be other explanations. So what do we really know?
We are all familiar with some obvious “social” contributors to our happiness: hugs, a prolonged smile, or a genuine expression of appreciation, are all proven “methods” to feel great. Research supports this intuitive fact by showing that e.g. hugs raise the oxytocin levels in our brain (which in turn decreases social anxiety).
But the effect of profound discussion on happiness is less obvious. On one side, meaningful conversations are food for the brain; through meaningful dialogue we learn and grow, thus satisfying a recognized human need. On the other side, we also know that a meaningful dialogue is by definition the meeting of different opinions and alternative views that might challenge ourselves and our beliefs and can be stressful (if we are simply stating the obvious like “terrible weather today” and the other agrees, this is considered idle chit-chat, since it does not enrich us with new learning).
Interestingly, what we observe in coaching is that when the client is truly interested and engaged in personal development and learning, even the toughest of the sessions produces satisfaction and happiness in the long run (to note: When it is the employer that sponsors coaching for an individual, the interest and engagement are not always a given). It is not unusual for a coaching session to end with comments like: “It was tough to be challenged this way, but I learnt and I feel lighter; when we started I was gloomy, now I am smiling”.
This stress-reducing effect observed in coaching might help us understand why engaging in meaningful discussions with friends can make us happy; as long as we are interested (and with friends we are interested) the positive effects of the learning overpower the potentially negative effects of being challenged; in coaching and in friendship we are open and receptive, which allows us to feed and satisfy our brain.
How can Grooa help?
SLOW-FOOD FOR BRAIN COACHINGTM is a low-impact impact program designed to provide free-wheeling opportunities for introspection, centered around your values, preferences and what brings a smile in your life. An excellent stress reducing method based on dialogue.
Contact us for more information or a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org