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Where have all your work friends gone?

Do you have a dog?

Overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. They also seem to recover better from a heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.

One thing for certain is that we are not wired to be alone.

While dogs may be one of the best assets in your companionship portfolio, you might also want to add someone who you can talk back to you! The good news is that diversifying your social circle to the point of staving off social pain is easier than you may think.

Social pain can stem from rejection, isolation and loneliness.

Quantity in companionship is not nearly as effective in lowering social pain than the quality of companionship is.

One main contributor to how strongly we feel social pain is our genetics. This ties into our need for acceptance and our self consciousness. Basically, our bodies really try to steer us away from isolation for survival.

The antidote to this is twofold.

Gradual Exposure therapy and Acceptance and Commitment therapy can change our belief systems surrounding this pain. Read: Facing your fears.

Another powerful antidote is creating a quality social circle in your life. Having quality social support available during a socially painful event can reduce activity in these brain pain-related areas.

Think about it. If you have a set of great friends, close family members, and a loving romantic partner then your social safety net is strong enough for any social flubs.

And that need only be 3-8 people.

Relationships can be made or strengthened faster than you think. At Jaunty we say it takes six weeks to arm yourself with the social skills tools needed. Then it takes six months to start seeing those relationships really blossom.

After that you can move on to work on getting closer to work colleagues, neighbors and even more outer rings of the community.

Wherever you are in your social life you can always strengthen it.

by Eric Waisman

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