Athletics & Community Blog
Athletics & Activities Blog – October 9
A Simple Chat with a Stranger
On my way to the market on my bike yesterday evening, I ran into four separate members of our ISY community out walking their dogs or on their way to the market. I stopped briefly to say a socially-distanced and masked “hello”. As I rode away on my bike after each chat, I felt this overwhelming sense of happiness to have seen these people in person on the street. I couldn’t explain the feeling, but it resembled that endorphin buzz one experiences after a good, long run.
I decided to do a quick bit of research to see if this feeling was something we are all experiencing lately. I especially wanted to use it as a teaching moment in PE class, where I often ask students to reflect on “good” and “bad” stress. I wondered if the feeling I had as I rode home last night really was the same dopamine hit we all experience during exercise.
It turns out Yale Psychology professor Laurie Santos studies this feeling. In fact, her Science of Well-Being class has become the most popular in course in Yale’s history.
““One of the most shocking [findings] for me is a study looking at how simple interactions with strangers positively affect your well-being,” she said, adding that, even for introverts, “a simple chat with a stranger can make people feel great.” “(Reese, 2020)
If chatting with a stranger can leave us feeling better, then having a quick chat with an acquaintance, friend, or co-worker must cause a similar, if not stronger feeling.
Dr. Santos goes on to talk about the affect of screens in our homes and that, while taking a moment before a Zoom meeting to be social with students or co-workers is great, it’s not the same as in-person interactions. When asked how to fulfill that need for social interaction during this pandemic, Dr. Santos responds, “It’s much harder right now. We need to be much more intentional about it. We need to recognize that it’s missing and that its absence is having a huge effect on our well-being — from the chat with the barista at the coffee shop to the water-cooler interaction with the people in the office. Those things matter for our well-being, but many of us don’t have them anymore, at least not in the same way that we had before the crisis started.”
What social interactions we do have these days, with our families in particular, are often hampered by screens. Dr. Santos continues, “”It’s funny — my husband told me, “You’re the only person I’ve seen, but I also feel like I haven’t seen you in a long time.” We can get that with the people we’re near in real life, because there’s screen things happening. We’re checking Facebook and looking at Instagram, and it can steal the time we do have in real life. That time is so precious right now, so we need to fight the screens to get some of that back.” (Reese, 2020)
So I guess my takeaway from yesterday’s interactions and from the article, is that even socially distanced and masked, we need to find those moments to say hello – to friends and strangers – on the street. Take an extra moment to chat with the cashier at the market. And most importantly, put down our devices at home, unplug, and talk to our families.
Reese, Hope. “Laurie Santos Says Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Be Selfish.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Oct. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/health/laurie-santos-covid-happiness.html.
Are you an ISY parent, alumni, faculty or staff member who has an idea for a virtual class for adults? Would you like to teach an art class of some sort, a foreign language, or a fitness class as part of our Community Education program? Or maybe you know someone who would be a great fit to teach other adults online.
If so, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to get our Community Education program rolling once again in the next few weeks for parents, alumni, faculty and staff.
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