Deep conversations increases your happiness

Researchers found the happiest people had about twice as many substantive conversations and engaged in only about a third as much trivial small talk as the unhappiest people.

“A happy daily life seems to be social rather than solitary and has meaningful conversations,” Mehl said.

Researchers defined “small talk” as uninvolved conversations where trivial information is discussed, such as: “What do you have there? Popcorn? Yummy.”

Substantive conversations involve more meaningful exchanges like this: “If you educate kids, they actually have a future. They’re not going to cause problems in society.”

In the happiest individuals, meaningful discussions made up about 46 percent of their total conversations.

I had a conversation today with a good friend about the difference of simply existing, engaging in little more than the logistics of life and how to make life move forward vs. engaging in things beyond your own life. She asked , “Well what is to say that you cannot be perfectly happy just ‘existing’?”.

Well, in a study at the University of Arizona researchers found that the happiest individuals in the study where having more deep, meaningful conversations as opposed to “small” talk. Given my enjoyment for understanding how things work I think that this type of result is exciting – potentially meaning that a habit of increasing the amount of meaningful conversations you have would increase your sense of well-being.

So now, go out and discussing something that’s not the logistics of life!

Is it conversations that matter?

During the past week I have been a part of the team that have hosted a conference called Scandinavian Leadership Seminar (ScaLDS). This is an annual conference that has for the last few years been set up by AIESEC in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Together with them we ran this conference bringing together about 100 leaders from all over the Scandinavian countries and abroad.

At these occasions one of the main parts of the content and reason why people are there is the connections, dialogues and reflections that all participants have with each other, and after the conference these are often the things that had the most impact / are remembered the most.  


This, however, has always previously left me slightly frustrated. I am a very action-oriented person and because of this my view of conferences has often been: yes they’re critical for our performance – but at the end of the day they’re also a distraction from the things we “should be doing”.

Lately, my perspective has been changing. I read somewhere that at the end of the day, our core deliverable as knowledge workers is new knowledge. A major way to generate new knowledge is through dialogue. So, spending time in dialogue isn’t in fact a distraction, it’s rather one a big part of “work”. Furthermore, conversations, as I have seen throughout this week, can be used not only to connect people, but also to move them into doing completely new or different things. They can be used not only to generate ideas and understanding – but also to focus direction and activity.

With that perspective in mind I have found it much easier to approach these conferences. I no longer feel the anxiousness of getting back to “real work” and can instead 100% focus on interacting with the dialogues and conversations that happen in them.

The age of conversation?

A conversation the other day with my friend Björn got me thinking, and I continued to think the whole day today as I took a walk. The internet has been said to have initiated the age of conversation, where the medium itself is a conversation between people, advertisers, politicians, corporations, and their cats.

I am working with a student organization and many, many of the organizations in this context (including to some extent my organization) has such a strong belief in the conversation. You create events, you have seminars, you discuss and you create awareness. Even at my previous job – it was about the conversation, albeit with a focus on action.

Then what is all this conversation leading to? Right now – it feels like more conversation and not the change that all this conversation wants to bring about.

So, the message is, simple, converse less and do more. How? Get off the internet, get on the streets, decide what you want to do and measure the result not by how much awareness you created but rather about how much you actually did to solve the problem. Easy? Not really, but then again nothing worthing doing is easy.

Having something to say

What strikes me when we’ve been online constantly when we’ve been
working here at Rebtel is that you always have to have something to
say. Engaging in maybe 50-100 conversations be it through blogging, on
chat, messaging, etc. you constantly need to keep updating, dialoguing,
posting and so on. Me and Björn discussed the feeling of almost feeling strained in having anything remotely intelligent to say all the time 🙂

I guess this is the challenge in the Age of Conversation. Do check out the book, it’s written by 100 bloggers who have each contributed to it. For sure an interesting read, though I’ve only flipped through the first couple of pages.

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