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Published 20 March 2013 08:40, Updated 15 April 2013 11:24
Friends before Facebook ... The stars of the hit TV series Friends, which ended its run in May 2004, three months after Facebook launched. Photo: Fairfax Media
The desire to be happy is such a core part of our psychology, it drives us to do the most extraordinary things. We ditch marriages, because we think we may be better off with a new spouse. We may spend millions on a bigger, more prestigious home that we hope will deliver us a better life, or strive to achieve at work because we believe success will make us happy.
But in doing all this, we usually neglect one of the things that is most likely to make us smiley people – we stop making friends. Research shows that having more friends is much more likely to make us happy than having more money, but as we get older and busier, we leave little time to meet and appreciate new people, preferring to hang on to the friends we already have.
And we have fewer friends than you might think. United States academics, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, say the average person has just four close social contacts, with most having between two and six. In their book, Connected: The Amazing Power Of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, the authors dissect how our number of close friends, their levels of happiness and their geographic proximity can affect our wellbeing – which makes work friends extra important. Their findings include: