Be a good friend:
In a study appropriately titled “Very Happy People,” researchers sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent among us. Do they all live in warm climates? Are they all wealthy? Are they all physically fit? Turns out, there was one—and only one—characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships.
Will Wilkinson admits it’s harder than it sounds:
If I had to name my single greatest flaw, I’d say it’s dereliction of friendship. I don’t actively cultivate new friendships. They either happen to me or they don’t, and mostly they don’t because I don’t put in much effort from my side. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s mostly because I find the idea of extending a hand stressful. Worse, I’m terrible at keeping in touch with old friends. After too much time without calling or emailing or texting or anything, I feel really embarrassed. And then, perversely, that embarrassment makes me more not less averse to reestablishing contact.
Wilkinson isn’t the only one who felt that way. Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
I was much obliged to all these good people, but I afterwards neglected them all; not from ingratitude, but from that invincible indolence which so often assumes its appearance. The remembrance of their services, has never been effaced from my mind, nor the impression they made, from my heart; but I could more easily have proved my gratitude, than assiduously have shown them the exterior of that sentiment. Exactitude in correspondence is what I never could observe; the moment I begin to relax, the shame and embarrassment of repairing my fault make me aggravate it, and I entirely desist from writing; I have, therefore, been silent, and appeared to forget them.
I thought about naming this blog “Invincible Indolence”, but I think we decided that a They Might Be Giants reference was more our speed than a French philosopher.