09: Breaking Isolation Through Short, Bright Interactions with Relative Strangers with Mario Luis Small

People Often Banish Loneliness by Sharing Fears with Acquaintances or Relative Strangers Rather than with Close Friends or Family

Mario Luis Small is a sociology professor at Harvard University. He is also an expert on personal networks. In his book Someone to Talk to: How Networks Matter in Practice. Mario reveals how people who need to vent or find a sympathetic ear or tend to make surprising choices.

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What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Just venting and talking about issues that are disturbing to us provides mental health benefits and improves our overall well-being.
  • People often confide highly personal matters to people they barely know. They may share their deepest concerns with the hairdresser, the uber driver, the guy they saw at the gym or someone at church.
  • People avoid telling their parents, siblings or close friends their deepest concerns because those special men and women perform other roles in their lives. For example, if you tell your mother about troubles with a romantic partner, she may try to protect you rather than just listen. Or, you simply don’t want to worry her.
  • When we are distressed or worried, we are looking for “cognitive empathy,” or someone who can truly understand or empathize.
  • You can expand your personal networks by doing what you like to do. If you are a golfer, you will find others who have similarities and who have self-selected into this group.
  • Short, bright interactions with relative strangers in your everyday travels break isolation and soothe the soul.