Monday, July 19, 2010

Study shows that deep conversation leads to happiness – Talk to me!

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. ~Chinese Proverb

Although I thoroughly enjoy talking to my tansies and trilliums, I sometimes enjoy a conversation with a little more depth and meaning. In fact, when I recently read this short article in USA Weekend entitled “Want to be Happy? Have a Conversation”, my first thought was about how much I miss some of my old friends that I used to have nice long talks with.

Since I work from home, there can be entire weeks when I don’t talk to anyone other than the sales clerks at the grocery store and the employees of the local library.

Thankfully, being a writer often provides an opportunity to discuss great topics with great minds, such as professors, scientists and other deep thinkers out here on the worldwide web.

Take, for example, my original post to this blog on the Psychology of Green Gardening. I had the opportunity to contact both Dr. Richard Ryan, a Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education at the University of Rochester and Dr. Michael Steger, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology and Applied Social Psychology programs at Colorado State University. We discussed ideas about the relationship of gardening and doing good and whether they thought that environmentally friendly gardening could be good for the soul. How fun!

I love that sort of conversation, even when it is held online or through email. An intelligent exchange of ideas with inspired and educated people just energizes me. I swear, if Albert Einstein was still alive and had email or twitter or a Facebook page, I’d track him down!

Which leads to the study mentioned above, in the USA Today article.

Dr. Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, conducted the original study on conversation and happiness. In Dr. Mehl’s study, they found that “higher well-being was robustly related to having less small talk and more substantive conversation.” In other words, deep thoughtful conversations make people happier than idle chitchat.

Collectively, the studies of Ryan and Steger and Mehl can mean only one thing: you need to invite people to your garden to sit around and have deep, interesting conversations! 

However, there are SOOOOOoo many people out there on the worldwide web that we want to discuss ideas with, and we can’t invite them all to our gardens! But we can share conversations with them online. Even Dr. Mehl, in our brief email conversation, admitted that he thinks “there are probably ways to have substantive conversations and really connect to other people on the internet.”

So talk to me! Add your comments to this blog, follow us on Twitter, join or start a conversation on our Facebook Fan page, or use the Contact link to send an email. Share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions or even your criticism. I'd love to know what you are thinking!

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