snowmanYay, the holidays! Or…ugh, the holidays. Regardless of how you shake down on them, they’re here…so what are you gonna do?

Whether it’s hanging out over Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, ringing in the New Year, or celebrating National Flashlight Day (Dec. 21) a lot of us are running around and buying enough gift cards to cover a small island in the South China Sea.

Then we get to eat all that food with family we may or may not like, be dazzled by twinkling lights, endure/enjoy the office party, drink too much or not enough, and have some time off. It can be a mixed bag.

If you think I’m going to lay down some sappy punch line about how the real gifts of the holidays are togetherness and family, you’re only about 31% right.

The holidays are kind of like the fall harvest; instead of crops, we celebrate another year together, gathering around tradition of song, food and drink, pastimes, and story.

But whether those traditions are with family, friends, or your co-workers (I’ll come to you lonely, single people in a hot minute), they remind us that we humans—introverts and extroverts alike—are social creatures. A good chunk of our happiness stems from the close social bonds we form in community, and our sense of community puts on a lot of flair this time of year.

There’s research floating around that shows in community you get better support in times of injury or insult, have lower stress levels, and receive a skyrocketing boost o’ happiness—as you get happier, the group gets happier, and then you get happier, and wow! Everyone starts letting down their hair (after a few drinks).

As a single person, I find it sometimes is hard to enjoy this time that prizes family and coupling. I entertained the thought of spending these festive times alone because I don’t like the holidays very much. But instead of wallowing alone, I sought out friends to share in them. It maybe isn’t ideal, but at the very least, it makes the holidays tolerable. At the best, my friends and colleagues become my new family and yes, I have felt that boost of happiness by being with them.

In other words, unless you own your own business AND live in a remote cave AND have no internet access, you get a free pass to not do anything. But if not, I’m sure there are gatherings of all shapes and sizes that can give you a dose of happiness-boosting community time.

On behalf of the Thrive team, I want to wish you a Happy National Baking Soda Day (Dec. 30) or whatever one you choose to celebrate this season.

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