Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence.
– Daniel Goleman
Social well-being is the positive state of our relationships, our social stability and social peace.
People are social creatures who are mutually dependent, relying on others for our well-being, just as they rely on us. To be well people need to love and be loved. We have the need to belong and to be connected. The worst form of punishment is solitary confinement. People who are in solitary confinement for a long time get damaged psychologically which can include hallucinations; panic attacks; overt paranoia; diminished impulse control; hypersensitivity to external stimuli; and difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory. Whilst a few people (like Dick Proenneke) cope well, most people can’t deal with solitude for any great length of time. We need other people to literally stay sane.
Social intelligence factors – including emotional intelligence, morals, upbringing, empathy, adaptability and altruism – are important to cultivate for social well-being. Social well-being also stems from things like freedom, trust and equal rights.
It is statistically proven that people with good social connections tend to be healthier and live longer than those who don’t.
Social health comes from regular, positive social contact with family, friends, neighbours, work and school. Belongingness and social contact can also come from sports clubs, community groups, volunteer organisations, churches, political parties, special interest and hobby groups, and so on. Schools, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and community events (like fairs and markets) provide opportunities for social contact. In addition, local restaurants, cafe’s, bars, pubs and clubs are places to meet other people.
In The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, the author Robert E. Lane, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale, found that much of the research done on social capital over the last several years shows that social ties not only affect our personal health, but also our societal health. He observes that as prosperity in a society increases, social solidarity decreases. Happiness not only declines, people become more distrustful of each other as well as their political institutions. Lane argues that we must alter our priorities; we must increase our levels of social contact and companionship even at the risk of reducing our income.
Our role and status in society also plays a major part in our well-being. Status is a fundamental need but real status does not come from what you have, it comes from what you do. In our materialist and consumerist world we often judge a person’s status by what they are seen to have. But people can acquire material wealth in all sorts of dysfunctional, destructive, immoral and even criminal ways. Conspicuous consumption is often dubious, there are no shortcuts to true status. Read about status anxiety here»