While readying my newest book, “Pushing The Boundaries” for publication this week (just learned it’s “live” now: https://www.amazon.ca/Pushing-Boundaries-How-More-Life/dp/1990096263/ref=sr_1_1 dchild=1&keywords=Pushing+the+boundaries+how+to+get+more+out+of+life&qid=1623014875&s=books&sr=1-1) I couldn’t help thinking about a book I read some time ago – “Bowling Alone” by Dr. Robert Putnam of the JFK School at Harvard University. He posits, “We used to be joiners, now we’re not. We don’t embrace bowling leagues the way we used to. Church attendance is off. Book clubs, investment clubs and other gatherings of people into ‘communities’ have lost their allure as we replace pleasant pastimes with helter-skelter lives aimed at achieving things, not enjoying things. The simple act of joining and being regularly involved in organized groups has a very significant, positive impact on individual health, well-being and happiness.”
Even Mark Zuckerberg agrees. The Facebook founder says we need to build a global community. “The sociopolitical upheavals of our time—from rampant drug addiction to murderous totalitarian regimes—result to a large extent from the disintegration of human communities... For decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else…” Zuckerberg says Facebook intends to roll out tools to make it easier to build communities: “If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.”
Stay with me because this next thought is connected: did you know that Finland is the happiest country in the world? For the 3rd straight year! (In case you’re wondering, the USA is 14th, Canada’s 15th and the UK is 18th.)
OK then, what’s the link?
It’s pretty simple really. The PhD students studying positive psychology whom I interviewed for my book “A Guide to Happiness” (aguidetohappiness.life) explained to me that countries like Finland have a strong sense of community. People there do things together. They support each other, have fun with each other, plan together, build futures together. They have real friends, not the fake kind so many people seem to value on social media. And because of this, the folks in Finland are happy.
Maybe it’s time that we here in North America began looking at what matters in our “real” lives, not our online lives.
Anyone ready to go bowling?