Humans are, by nature, social creatures. As the Dalai Lama once said, “We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
This is not just a random statement; as it turns out, it is rooted in science. Over many years, studies have shown that our social interactions, and the quality of them, quite literally affect our health and happiness, as well as our ability to live longer lives. Without connections to others, it seems that we are doomed to shrink down into less-than-ideal versions of ourselves.
As we age, our social circles and opportunities for interactions diminish. This is natural; children grow up into adults and move out, taking retirement equals more time at home, family and friends move away or pass away. Health issues can also restrict our ability to interact with others.
All of the sudden, maintaining social outlets becomes more of a challenge. This is where the Friendship Line at Institute on Aging can really make a difference.