The power of ‘Hello’: How a friendly greeting might just be the best medicine

Dec 14, 2023
The research emphasises that even the briefest interactions, like saying "good morning," can pave the way to increased life satisfaction Source: Getty Images.

Growing up, we were always told not to talk to strangers, however, recent research has suggested that a simple “hello” to a passerby can boost our well-being.

The research, led by Dr. Esra Ascigil of Sabanci University near Istanbul, Turkey, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sussex, examined the behaviours of 60,000 people, with a significant focus on 40,000 individuals from the UK.

The research explored the impact of momentary interactions, greetings, and expressions of gratitude on well-being, finding that those who engaged in conversations with strangers and maintained weak ties, coupled with the simple acts of greeting and thanking, were found to experience greater life satisfaction.

Dr. Ascigil, the driving force behind the study, explained, “Having a sense of belonging involves feeling like you are accepted and valued by other people—it is often considered a fundamental human need.”

In essence, the study suggests that these seemingly small gestures can create a sense of belonging, a vital component of overall well-being.

The research emphasises that even the briefest interactions, like saying “good morning,” can pave the way to increased life satisfaction, creating a compelling argument for the profound impact of seemingly mundane niceties in our daily lives.

The value of genuine human connection and maintaining social bonds becomes important as we enter the later stages of life.

In addition to social interaction improving well-being, interacting with others regularly may prolong the lives of older adults.

According to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, interacting with others regularly may prolong the lives of older adults.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, examined over 28,000 individuals and indicates that socialising daily appears to be the most advantageous for increasing longevity.

As part of the Association between social activity frequency and overall survival in older people: results from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey, researchers utilised data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS), a nationally representative study of independent elderly individuals that began in 1998 and has been ongoing.

The study collected information on the frequency of social interactions starting in 2002, and this current research focused on five waves of data collection that occurred up to 2018-19, with a total of 28,563 participants who had an average age of 89.

Participants were asked about the frequency of their social activities, with response options including almost every day, at least once a week, at least once a month, occasionally, and never. The study also collected data on potentially influential factors such as education, sex, marital status, household income, fruit and vegetable intake, lifestyle, and poor health. The study tracked survival for an average of 5 years or until death.

During the monitoring period, 25,406 individuals reported not engaging in any social activities, 1379 engaged sometimes, 693 at least once a month, 553 at least once a week, and 532 almost every day. Of the 28,563 participants, 21,161 (74 per cent) died, with 15,728 passing away within the first 5 years.

Overall, the study found that more frequent social activity was associated with longer survival. The greater the frequency of social interactions, the greater the likelihood of living longer.

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