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January 2011



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A recent study analyzed 20,000 conversations and found that happiness strongly correlated with talkative people who went beyond the small talk. Christie Nicholson reports

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That’s a scene from the 1968 movie The Party with Peter Sellers attempting small talk. And sometimes small talk can lead to interesting connections.

But according to a new study in the journal Psychological Science it might be best if you move from small talk quickly into a more substantial conversation.

Researchers analyzed 20,000, 30-second samplings of the daily conversations of study volunteers, and organized them into trivial chatter or more serious discussion. The participants also took personality and well-being assessment tests.

And they found that the happiest participants spent 70 percent more time talking with others than the least happy people. But more than just measuring amount of time spent talking with others, they also found a difference in the type of conversation happier folks engage in.

The happiest participants had twice as many substantive conversations and only a third as much small talk as those who are least content.

Of course this study finding shows correlation not causation. Still, the authors 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.”

—Christie Nicholson

Source:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=happy-people-talk-more-seriously-10-03-06

By Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.

The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.

– William Penn

Normally I’m known as a “nice guy:” easygoing, fair, pretty calm and generally happy. But several years ago I planned a weekend conference on psychodrama that unglued me. Planning the conference took six months and included the usual things; arranging for a block of rooms, guaranteeing registrants, coordinating lunches and dinners, and keeping the cost down wherever I could.

As a clinical professor, the presentations and training itself were easy. I could lecture and demonstrate the use of role-playing in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, show videos of how to apply group principles to people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, and demonstrate the various ways to deescalate a fight that had broken out between two members of a group. But guaranteeing payment for a block of rooms and coordinating the coffee sent shivers down my spine.

The pre-registration looked good enough to cover the costs. On the drive from New Jersey to Stockbridge, Mass. where the conference was to be held, I received a call on my cell phone. The shift manager explained that more people had shown up for the conference than anticipated and they could not be accommodated. They did not have reservations and he had no other options than to send them elsewhere.

I lost it.

In my car, alone, I began screaming at the top of my lungs. “You promised me they could accommodate up to 75 people! Now you’re telling me you only have room for 50! I’ve spent six months planning this damn thing with your hotel, we have a contract! You can’t tell me last minute that there is no place for these people — they’ll never trust me again! I’ll never be able to run another conference!” As Albert Ellis might have said, I was “awfulizing.”

Driving on the New York State Thruway I swerved, screamed, and generally worked myself up into what my mother would have called a “tizzy.”

I came to a tollbooth and dug into my pocket to pay. As the window went down I was still shrieking into the phone. I expected to pay and go, but instead the tollbooth operator said something that changed my life.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/01/proof-positive-counting-your-blessings/

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