It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people's business. ~Dolley Madison
I recently participated in some research on happiness. Well, I didn't know it was research at the time, but looking back, I can see that I learned a lesson that is, in fact, backed up by research.
Part one of the study involved my sitting with some acquaintances as they chatted. They talked about their friends, and their relatives, and their co-workers, and their exes, and their neighbors, and all the things those people are involved in. At the end of the conversation, I had a headache, I was tired and wrung out, and I wanted to sprint from the group to get away (of course I couldn't - thanks, ankle).
Part two of the study involved my sitting with some other acquaintances as they chatted. They talked about their favorite TV shows, politics, movies they enjoy, music and concerts, how the kids are doing at school, church, their pets, and books they are reading. When that conversation was over, I felt great. I could have continued listening and talking to those people for hours. My ankle hurt from a long day of being away from my comfy couch, but at least not from running away from uncomfortable conversations.
Then I read about a study done by the University of Arizona and Washington University. The researchers found that people who spend less time in small talk and gossip are happier people. "Meaningful connections with other people are an important part of happiness," said the co-author, Siminie Vazire, Ph.D.
So if you are looking for ways to be happier, more content, and to really thrive, stop talking ABOUT people and start talking WITH them about things that matter to you. You'll be happy you did.