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Science reveals the importance of “knowledge” in your life

Science reveals the importance of “knowledge” in your life

Victoria Terandola and Lam Jung struck up a conversation last spring walking the dogs at Brookdale Park in Bloomfield, New Jersey. It is then that they realize that they both have a little dog named Abby. Tyrandola, 65, an insurance salesperson who lives in nearby Cedar Grove, has a mixture of pork and pood. Abby de Gong, the largest and heaviest, is the Beagle terrier.

At first they talked about dogs. Then they found out they liked to cook, so “we started talking about food and restaurants,” said Jung, 67, a retiree who lives in Clifton.

“I talk about how good my kitchen is about his,” said Tirandola. They were sitting on a park bench, dogs running wild on a warm spring afternoon, with a third member of a growing group of regulars: Patty Marsh, a pedestrian Australian shepherd named Ollie.

“We all live alone,” said Tirandola. “My mother passed away in July and we were very close. He blamed his wife a few years ago.”

Meeting in Park Park “keeps us company,” said Marsh, 55. She and Terandola, who were also joined together as Christians, came daily. Jung joins them once or twice a week. So does Lee Guinol, 69, who works part-time at Clifton’s and arrives soon after with Charlie, a pug-and-bagel mix.

Psychologists and sociologists call this type of connection “weak bonds” or “peripheral bonds,” in contrast to close bonds with family and close friends.. Some researchers who investigate weak links include classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and people who attend the same church in this category. Others mention interactions with nearby strangers in coffee shops or on transit roads.

For example, people crossing trails on a dog walk sometimes get to know other regulars without knowing their names (even though they probably know their dogs’ names) or anything about them. However, impromptu conversations about pets or the weather come up and are important.

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These seemingly trivial interactions have been shown to increase people’s positive moods and decrease their chances of being in a bad mood.frustrated.

“Poor relationships are important, not only for mood but also for health,” said Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist at the University of Sussex in England who has researched their impact.

She said, “If I asked you who you trusted, you wouldn’t name these people.” However, the resulting sense of belonging given by weak ties is “essential for you to live well and feel connected to others”—even among introverts, as Sandstrom himself defines it.

In early studies, portable counters were distributed to groups of undergraduates and people over the age of 25 to keep track of how many peers or other people they interacted with, even on a small scale, over several days. Participants who interacted with weaker connections reported greater happiness and a greater sense of well-being and belonging than those with less interaction.

The researchers also found “personality differences,” which indicates that the effects were not the result of personalities. The same individuals reported being happier on days when they had more interaction. Other studies have found similar benefits when people smile and talk briefly with attendees at a Starbucks location in Vancouver, British Columbia, or greet university bus drivers in Ankara, Turkey.

Most of these participants were very young, but a study published in 2020 followed an older sample of more than 800 metro Detroit adults over a 23-year period.

The researchers asked participants (average age at baseline: 62 years old) to draw three concentric circles, with “you” at the center, and to rank the people in their lives in order of degree of closeness. People in the closest circle have always been family members, said Tony Antonucci, a University of Michigan psychologist and senior author of the study. Poor relationships in the outer circle included friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

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Over time, the number of weak ties predicted well-being to a greater degree than the number of close relationships. Weak ties, Antonucci said, “provide a low-demand interaction opportunity.” “It’s cognitively stimulating. It’s an immersive experience.”

Pandemic>COVID-19That arrived when social scientists were already warning about the health risks of loneliness and isolation for seniors stopped many of these day-to-day exchanges.

The elderly often kept in touch with their families, one way or another, but where were the waiters who took breakfast orders, the bank tellers, the traffic guards, and the dog-walkers? “I hope this made people realize how important vulnerable relationships can be,” Sandstrom said. While they can’t replace close contacts, “we miss the novelty and the spontaneity,” she says.

From left to right, Patty March, Lee Guignol, Lam Jung, and Victoria Tyrandola with their dogs in the park. filming: Brian Anselm/The New York Times

Strive to expand friendships into old age

At older ages, when social networks tend to shrink, people have to make an effort to expand them. “Make an effort,” Antonucci advised. “You can’t raise children again at 70, but you can create new weak bonds.”

Elzie Erner, 67, retired last year after 25 years of teaching at Hunter College in Manhattan, New York. Life in rural Claverack, upstate, catered to her and her friendships, but after a few months, “I started to feel like I was missing something,” she said. I started eating lunch weekly at the neighborhood pub at Chatham House.

The waiter knew his name (and vice versa) and his love for lobsters. Erner wins a game of ice cube bocce ball against the highway crew, who also frequently lunch there. “They noticed when I was gone because I had to have surgery on my knee, and when I came back it was like, ‘Hey, robot woman!'” “It is so wonderful.”

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In Placerville, Calif., David Turoff, 72, a veterinarian, talks to his postman and sometimes visits the mechanic fixing his truck just to say hello or leave a memory. “They make me feel good,” Turoff said of these brief interactions. “I like to have relationships with people.”

Toby Gold’s day begins with a 7 a.m. visit to Chez Antoine, a bakery and coffee shop in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Gould, 77, retired, buys a latte to go and hesitantly speaks French to the Belgian owner, who hands a slice of ham to Leila, Gould’s Australian shepherd. If the store closed, Gold said, “it would leave a hole in my life.”

Loose relationships, even those developed online, don’t necessarily turn into tight ties — and they don’t have to. Intimate relationships, after all, can involve conflicts, demands for reciprocity, and other complexities.

But sometimes weak relationships develop.

For example, the owners of the dogs in Brookdale Park have become real friends. They go out to dinner and watch movies and comedy shows. If the weather is bad, they take a picnic at a local mall. Gong, fond of crafts, hung Tirondola curtains, installed lacquer cabinets for the Geanoules, and gave Marsh a lift when she left her car in the garage for repairs.

After some hesitation at first exchanging phone numbers, Gynol says, “We took a giant step,” then stops to pet one of the dogs, Abby. “You can change your life by talking to someone for ten minutes.” / translation by RENATO PRELORENTZOU