i’m taking this course called “The Science of Well-Being” on Coursera that’s supposed to teach you how to be happier and more productive. i was skeptical about it at first since, erm, since when has happiness come in the form of an online course, especially given that virtual school has given me nothing but grief??
but i’m really enjoying it now. the majority of the course is composed of an overview of the psychology behind being happy, but a key component of it includes exercises for you to put certain actions into practice; e.g. writing down one thing you’re grateful for each day, meditating, and exercising.
this week’s set of exercises included social connection, aka reaching out to people and trying to foster new social relationships. since i’m not capable of striking up a conversation with a stranger in any physical location at this point in time, i decided to try xoxo.sh, this speed dating-esque platform that enables MIT students to meet new people at 9 pm EDT each day. it was so much fun!!! i met some really cool folks that i don’t think i would’ve run into at MIT.
the next day, i scheduled video calls with damn look at me go people. i spaced them out since i knew back to back calls would be exhausting and in spite of this was pretty reluctant to initiate the last one since i was SO comfortably slumped in my bed watching Netflix, but…at the end of the day, i was really grateful that i did it. reconnecting with my friends was wonderful!!
at MIT, you meet a lot of people in classes/at random events that you can lose touch with simply by being swept up by psets and activities and other commitments. and whenever you think “wow, i should meet up with that person,” a hell week hits and you forget about such intentions. it’s kind of weird to admit, but i had a note on my phone that listed people who i didn’t interact with on a semi-regular basis who i wanted to remind myself to catch up with. there are obviously less creepy and type-A ways to do this, like making social mailing lists, but whatever works?? i’m glad i had at least some mechanism for doing this since there are a lot of amazing people from my freshman pre-orientation program who i would never see unless i actively made plans with them.
and while i’m not going to whip out a checklist to keep track of the friends i talk to in quarantine, it is nice to at least feel like i’m connecting with them occasionally.
staying in touch might be hard, but it’s super important! send memes to your friends, text them when you think about them, and keep in mind that even a single message can go a long way. the activation energy to reaching out to people isn’t as high as you think, and doing so will definitely be super rewarding :)