Skip the small talk; have deep conversations, and you’ll be happier. A recent study by Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, found that people who engage in more meaningful and deeper conversations tend to be happier than those that don’t:
“We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way — it could have been, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’’— as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy,”Dr. Mehl said.
But, he proposed, substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people.
“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”
My own experience certainly corroborates Mehl’s findings. Shallow, superficial conversations can be worthwhile in building relationships and establishing rapport with other people, but it is the deep conversations that truly fulfill us and touch on the things that matter most to us.
You can read about the study in greater detail here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/talk-deeply-be-happy/