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Shared Experiences Offer Psychological Benefits

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The holiday season is more than just going to office parties, gatherings and family dinners—it’s also about building deeper bonds with those around us through shared experiences.

Our sense of belonging and deep connection with others isn’t just based on sharing secrets, vulnerabilities or our true thoughts and feelings. Sharing lived experiences, like going to a holiday party, a concert, or running a race with a close friend or family member is also key to forming deep bonds.

Shared experiences have a number of positive influences on our emotional wellbeing and connectedness. One study found that shared experiences—even with a complete stranger—are more intense than doing something alone. Another study underscored the positive effects of sharing experiences with those we’re already close to, so that the closer we feel to the person we are having the shared experience with the more enjoyable that experience will be.

The holidays are a great time to share experiences, with friends and family gathered. Here are three tips for getting the most out of those moments:

 

1. Prioritize seeing friends in person.

In the digital age it’s easy to connect with friends and family by text and social media. But digital connecting doesn’t allow for us to deepen social connections and feelings of belongingness in the same way shared experiences do.

2. Carve out a regular time for family shared experiences.

Research shows that having positive shared experiences with our family, such as vacations, trips to museums and going to the movies, increases feelings of self-esteem and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation.

3. Say yes to invitations.

Being social is crucial for cultivating a sense of belonging.  

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