Do you know what changes our behavior? Our friends. Our neighbors. Our communities. Do you know what makes us happy? Our friends. Our neighbors. Our communities. Social psychology research tells us that social support and social norms can help lead to long-term behavior change, and that the more you engage in your community, build social ties, and find purpose in life, the happier you’ll be.
Apparently, most of us really care about what everyone else is doing—so much so that we’re more likely to reuse our towels at a hotel if we learn that the majority of other guests are doing the same thing. This message is much more effective than, say, statistics-heavy cards telling us about the environmental or financial savings of towel reuse. We are social animals: we want to connect with others, and the social norms of our culture and communities influence what we consider to be normal. In addition, the more we create social connectedness in our lives and spend even small amounts of time volunteering, the better we feel about ourselves and our lives.