(In person and in pictures, Ed is always smiling. It is easy to see how he has successfully created sustained networks of people in our profession all over the country. Relationships are an important capital in our field and Ed navigates the creation and maintenance of those connections with ease and grace. Ed personifies generosity in how he dedicates his time, energy and support of others in our field. In this blog post he discusses his perspective on social wellbeing.)
When Ann Marie invited me to reflect on “Social Wellbeing,” based on the chapter from “Well-Being: The Five Essential Elements”, I was thrilled at the opportunity. Being on the ACPA 2013 ConventionPlanningTeam, the theme of “wellness” has been in my mind all year long. Of the five elements, “social” is my strongest and as I read through this chapter, I found myself nodding and reflecting on ways this has been actualized in my professional life. Today’s post cover this chapter’s main points, and why the art of being social should become a priority for all of us.
Inheriting More from Friends than Family
When I reflect back on the totality of my professional life experiences and accomplishments, it is hard to refute the influence (both positive and negative) my friends and their networks have had on me. With the explosion of the social web, this seems to be even more evident. Without my on and off campus networks, it is hard to imagine all that I have learned through them that have made me a better professional.
Second Hand Obesity
It is easy for many of us in Student Affairs to fall short in our eating choices with how busy we find ourselves day to day. Whether we know it or not, our social networks (both in person and online) play a key role in how we eat. It is up to us to lead by example to make good food choices and ask others to hold us accountable. Small changes can lead to big results. Choosing water over soda, packing our own lunch, eating only half of a restaurant-sized portion, and adding 30 minutes of physical activity each day can make huge positive impacts right away.
Investing Stock in Others’ Wellbeing
Think of the last time you did something for someone else and how good that made you feel. This is no accident, as our own social wellbeing is directly connected to how well those around us do. Begin thinking of ways each day that you can make someone else’s day better, whether it’s through randomactsofkindness, making connections for them, or volunteering time/resources. This way, when opportunity presents itself, you will be ready!
Every Hour of Social Time Keeps Stress Away
According to Rath and Harter, “The data suggest that to have a thriving day, we need six hours of social time.” While that number may be intimidating, I think the intent is a solid one. For many of us, we find ourselves at our desks (outside of meetings) to get our jobs done. Perhaps the paradigm shift may come in small, sustainable changes including having meetings in someone else’s office, eating your lunch with someone outside of your office, and scheduling skype and/or phone call meetings with friends once or twice a day.
Find Friends at Work
Who are your “friends” at work? You know, the ones you might go to lunch and vent with? Or the ones you bounce ideas off to get your creative side flowing strong? Or the ones whom you may grab dinner and drink with after work? If you have not spent time building and sustaining relationships at work, this should be one of the first things you do next to achieve social wellness. How does one find friends at work? Think of the best advice you give your new students when they are trying to find friends, and follow it 🙂
Don’t Expect One Friend To Do It All
While having one or two close friends is important, having a solid network of positive friends, who are good at many different things, is more important. According to Rath and Harter, “… each happy friend increases your odds at being happy by 9%, while each unhappy friend only decreases your odds at being happy by 7%. This might explain why, on average, each new relationship is likely to boost your wellbeing.” Try not to expect one or two friends to fulfill all your needs, but look to a diverse network that has each person contributing something unique.
As you reflect on your own social wellbeing, think about how much time you spend being “social” each day, how strong your mutual connections are in your network, and how much time you spend combining physical activities with friends (e.g. taking a walk, riding bikes, playing sports.) Focus your energy on little changes in each of these areas and you may just find yourself being more productive at work, a little more focused, and a lot more happy.
Everything I wrote about in this post, I do daily. I have a strong network of friends at work and beyond that has built over my 15+ plus years working in Higher Education. Through Association involvement, consulting opportunities, and University committees, I’ve built a strong network that mutually respects and supports one another. Thanks to online connections through social media on Twitter and Facebook, it’s even easier to find, build, and sustain a network that you already know. As a matter of fact, over the last three and half years of being active online, I can honestly say that I’ve learned and engaged more professionally, than I did the previous 12 years. When you know how to use the social web properly, it can yield you so many wonderful intended AND unintended social wellbeing benefits!
Ed Cabellon is the Director of the Rondileau Campus Center (RCC) at Bridgewater State University.