“In a study appropriately titled ‘Very Happy People,’ researchers sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent among us. Do they all live in warm climates? Are they all wealthy? Are they all physically fit? Turns out, there was one – and only one – characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships.” Shawn Anchor- The Happiness Advantage
Social relationships are an investment
MS can be isolating, but you don’t have to let that happen. Research shows connections are core to happiness for coping, friendship, support and more. Instead of turning inward or allowing themselves to become isolated, the most successful people hold on tighter to their social support — or even reach out. So, at the time when you need support the most, don’t make a common mistake: don’t let go of social support. It’s your most valuable resource and investment.
Social connections do not always mean family members and what we traditionally see as friendships. Important connections can also be made with people you share an interest or common activity with – such as people you see at your exercise class, members of an online community you frequent, co-workers, etc.
Talking about MS with others
Important relationships take effort and energy — even without the challenges of MS. While MS does pose some additional adversities, it can also enrich relationships and bring people closer together. First, recognize that the disease affects not just you, but everyone who cares about you. Next, decide whom you want to tell about the MS and what you want them to understand about it. Last, look for ways to make room for MS in your personal and professional relationships without giving it more time, attention, and energy than it really needs.
Power of human connections
George Bonanno, PhD, Teachers College, Columbia University
“Human beings are incredibly oriented towards other people. We are very social beings. There's a tremendous meaning in being with other people and sharing things with other people. It just feels right to be connected with other people and share our experiences with other people. Other people can also be comforting. There's a tremendous amount we get from other people. But even in the absence of those sort of higher level things, just being with someone else means something to us.”
There are many ways to engage in your community and connect with others in the MS movement. Use the Personal Call to Action Worksheet (PDF)
to come up with ideas about engaging in your community.
- Opportunities near you: Meet other people near you affected by MS! Search self-help groups and programs in your area.
- Volunteer with the National MS Society.