One example of this is a study known as "Very Happy People" where researchers investigated the characteristics of the happiest ten percent among us. They looked at wealth, geographic location, physcial ability and many other factors. What was the conclusion? The only characteristic that distinguished the happiest ten percent from everyone else was the strength of their social support system. In another study of Harvard undergraduates where researchers compared such factors as GPA, family income, SAT scores, age, gender and race with the individuals' happiness level, again the best predictor of their overall happiness was the level of social support. I bet many of you are thinking this is just common sense. We've all experienced this in our own lives.
If that is true, then why is it that when people get in crisis they actually pull away from their social network? There are many reasons : we think that we would be a burden to others, we think that no one else could understand our problems, we think that others might think less of us in some way if they knew of our problems, we think we would be gossiping or 'sharing our dirty laundry. However, I personally have found time and time again that a problem shared is a problem that loses it's power to control me emotionally. A problem shared is a problem that becomes smaller and smaller until I finally have the means or the strength to cope with it myself. So what about you? Are you sharing with your circle of family and friends in times of trouble?