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Natural Awakenings Fairfield & Southern Litchfield Counties

Investing in Well-Being: The Priceless Value of Connection

Feb 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Andrea Kopilak
This year, the theme for the 2023 World Happiness Summit is connection, and there is a profound reason. Long-term research shows that across cultures, connection is vital for our well-being, longevity and flourishing. Factors such as quality and energy present within a connection contribute to a positive whole being. There are numerous health benefits that result from positive interactions great and small. Research, psychological theories and models of well-being uphold relatedness as a foundational human need for flourishing and happiness.

How is connection vital for our well-being and flourishing?
Brené Brown defines connection as, “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” When it comes to your health and well-being and the energy that exists between people during interactions, research shows that connection is instrumental.

The work on high-quality connections for individuals and organizations from Jane Dutton indicates that the quality of interactions between people is invigorating when they: feel worthy and valued; are engaged and energized; and feel trusted. Isaac Prilleltensky reinforces this as he explains that when we believe we are respected, valued, seen and appreciated, we feel as though we matter, resulting in positive social connections which directly correlate to our psychological well-being. Additionally, Prilleltensky informs us that feeling valued improves our confidence, which increases the likeliness we will contribute to our community.

Health benefits of connection
It is no surprise that research shows good relationships are universally essential to life satisfaction, emotional and physical well-being. They foster positive emotions which, according to renowned psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, help us become more open to new ideas and build resilience over time. When it comes to our physical well-being, Ed Diener and Micaela Chan found that when someone experiences a positive mood, their cortisol levels decline, which protects them from illness concerning the cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems.

According to John Paul Stephens, Emily Heaphy and Jane Dutton, high-quality connections impart positive emotions and leave those involved with a sense of clarity and competence. In addition, they found that cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes which encourage high-quality connections can improve cognitive performance, speed of processing and working memory. Furthermore, Jane Dutton’s work suggests that individuals who experience frequent high-quality connections encounter physical benefits such as stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and more. Lara Aknin and Ashley Whillans show that even small meaningful opportunities for connection may provide emotional benefits to well-being.
According to Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli, small compassionate interactions have both short- and long-term effects such as reducing anxiety and positively impacting emotional distress levels. When it comes to positive connections over time, the longitudinal research of John Gottman has found that happy couples are healthier and live longer.

So, why is connection important?
According to scientific research and the motivational theory of self-determination, connection is identified as a basic human need, foundational for flourishing and happiness. In fact, both Martin Seligman’s well-being model (PERMA) and Tal Ben-Shahar’s whole being approach (SPIRE) highlight a relationship component as a key to living life to the fullest.

Further research from Akins and Whillans suggest people are more motivated to engage in helping behaviors when they have an opportunity to make new or strengthen existing connections with others. They also contribute to the idea that when one can assist people they value and/or groups they belong to, there is a greater chance that they may experience higher levels of happiness.

When it comes to engaging in relationships that nourish us and make us feel valued, confident and stronger, Ed Diener, Martin Seligman and others, show that social support is nearly essential for happiness. Diener reports that happy people tend to make friends, volunteer, donate and get along well with others more than people who are unhappy. He also explains how this has a positive impact on society, as happy people are often friendlier, better citizens and are willing to help when needed.

In conclusion, positive connections are a vital element for well-being and flourishing, as they have numerous physical and mental health benefits and may increase levels of happiness on an individual and societal level. Ultimately, high-quality connections make the world a better place to live.

For more information and a full list of references used in this article, visit Garin Kopilak, the founder of Connect2Flourish, LLC, holds an MA in Educational Communications and Technology from NYU, an Advanced Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology from UPenn and extensive awareness coach training from MentorCoach. Connect with a 45-minute complimentary coaching session by emailing  [email protected] or visit to learn more. See Community Resource listing, page 38.

pAndrea Garin Kopilakbrp

Connect2Flourish, LLC

As the Founder of Connect2Flourish, I use a coaching process grounded in the science of positive psychology and awareness coaching to help empower you to utilize your strengths so that yo... Read More » 



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