How stories can help us return to the chit-chat that sustains our relationships.

How stories can help us return to the chit-chat that sustains our relationships.

For most of us, the last few years has seen a reduction in social interaction.

Which is, obviously, understandable.

But social interaction is important; it contributes to our health and wellbeing and happiness and more!

So what if you want to start to get back into it again, but feel “out of practice”?

Well, I think this Psychology Today article by Robyn Fivush might just help …

For the last three spring semesters, I have been co-teaching a seminar course called “What Does It Mean to Be Human?” with both faculty and graduate student instructors. As a teaching team, we develop ideas and readings based on the specific graduate students teaching the course and we embark on a semester-long exploration with a group of students from across the college, majoring in everything from neuroscience to creative writing. The first time I taught this course, we went online mid-semester as the pandemic hit. The following spring, we were completely online. This spring, we started out online, as the omicron variant spread, but we are now in person. All of us, faculty and students alike, are ecstatic to be back in person. Yet I cannot help but notice how things have changed.

Yesterday, as we drifted into the classroom, each student sat down and began scrolling on their personal device—phone, laptop, iPad. No one chatted. There were no catch-up conversations, no quick “how are you” exchanges, or “let’s get together for coffee”—nothing. We simply no longer chat. Julie Jargon wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 15, 2022, that “talk is a lost art on campus.” Rather than engaging with those literally around us, we drop into our devices to interact with online social media. Students are anxious about the lack of social relationships and friendships on campus. Indeed, in my multi-university study of the impact of the pandemic on students who were first-year when the lockdown occurred—a study I have discussed multiple times in previous posts—one of our major findings is the sense of alienation and isolation students feel, even as they return to campus. Perhaps especially for young adults who are in the process of exploring who they are and who they want to be as they navigate through their college years, the need for social interaction increases as the enduring effects of the pandemic decrease our social skills.

In the same Wall Street Journal issue, and serendipitously printed just below the article on talk as a lost art, is an article by Lindsay Ellis on a wildly popular class being taught at Harvard Business School on “Leadership and Happiness.” Students flock to this course to learn how to cultivate happiness in their careers and personal lives. Many of these ideas come from the field of positive psychology, such as gratitude-finding and valuing relationships. The class reinforces what the Gallup World Poll on Happiness finds over and over every year—the three most important things that make us happy are productive work, good health, and positive personal relationships…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE