To make it easy, Dr. Grant recommends starting off with a daily “five-minute favor,” like introducing two people who could benefit from knowing each other, or sending an article or podcast link to a friend, saying you were thinking of them.
Even a quick chat with a stranger or a momentary bond with someone new can foster a sense of fulfillment, particularly when what researchers call a high quality connection occurs. “They don’t have to be lasting relationships or long interactions,” Dr. Grant said. “Sometimes people feel an extra spring in their step when they talk to a stranger on a plane or a subway, or when somebody greets them at a restaurant.”
Moments of being seen by other people, and being met with respect or even enthusiasm, can energize and invigorate us and help create bonds within our neighborhood or community.
As you emerge from pandemic life, try to reconnect with a community you’ve missed. It might be going back to church or choir practice, a running group or yoga class or even just hanging out at your local coffee shop. And don’t be afraid to chat with a stranger, reconnect with your barista or strike up a conversation at the dog park.
What things do you look forward to each day? What gives your life meaning? Research has found that flourishing comes from daily routines, like working on a new skill or reaching out to thank the people you value in your life, and small moments of mastery, connection and meaning.
“There are lots of American adults that would meet the qualifications of feeling happy, but they don’t feel sense of purpose,” said Corey Keyes, a professor of sociology at Emory University. “Feeling good about life is not enough.”
While work doesn’t have to be the main driver behind your sense of purpose, studies show that reframing how you think about your job can improve your sense of satisfaction. Deepening relationships with co-workers and reminding yourself how your job contributes to a greater good can change how you think about work. If you’re an insurance agent, for example, perceiving your job as a means of helping people get back on their feet after an accident, rather than focusing on a rote task like processing claims, can make your work more fulfilling.