Conversations of substance require acceptance of humanness
Frequent and substantial conversations with others creates a sense of well-being, according to a psychology study reported in Science Daily this morning.
Greater well-being was related to spending less time alone and more
time talking to others: The happiest participants spent 25% less time
alone and 70% more time talking than the unhappiest participants. In
addition to the difference in the amount of social interactions happy
and unhappy people had, there was also a difference in the types of
conversations they took part in: The happiest participants had twice as
many substantive conversations and one third as much small talk as the
These findings suggest that the happy life is social and
conversationally deep rather than solitary and superficial. The
researchers surmise that — though the current findings cannot identify
the causal direction — deep conversations may have the potential to
make people happier. They note, “Just as self-disclosure can instill a
sense of intimacy in a relationship, deep conversations may instill a
sense of meaning in the interaction partners.”
I was reading a blog post the other day from the writer Scott Berkun who lamented the impact his loner disposition had on his life. Because he was inclined to solitude and self-reliance, he hadn’t maintained connections with people as he moved from phase to phase of his life.
Was that an articulation of a lack of well-being? Or the discourse of a man who accepted himself.
The irony is that I suspect Berkun — who I don’t know — is a man who gravitates towards substance in his conversations.
Substance isn’t an instant construct. It requires thought and reflection. You have to listen carefully to provide substance. Substance needs reciprocality. Substance requires that you are able to combine the here and now with your internal life, and that you can accept ambiquity and disagreement and are open to the human experience.
Conversations of substance are moments of commitment. You give up some of your energy and you take some of the energy of the other person away.
Sometime when you are talking, stop and look in the eyes of the other person. That is the life force you have engaged. Knowing that you can accomplish that engagement is part of knowing that you are truly alive and human. For any one of us, that can contribute to a sense of purpose, giving breadth to the feeling of well-being.