What’s the secret to health and happiness?  It could be… increasing the number of people in your life. As much as you love your alone time, make a point to connect with others. One study found that if you spend 6-7 hours per day socializing, you are 12 times more likely to be happier!

Here are some ways to get more people in your life – for happiness and good health.

Choose one happy friend and make a date immediately
Happiness can multiply, according to a study published in the National Institutes of Health.  People who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy themselves.  Researchers found that one person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that could last for a year: one person makes a friend happy… who makes another friend happy… and so on.  Plan a get together and start spreading happiness!

Have a mix of three types of relationships
Toni Antonucci, a University of Michigan professor of psychology, says you need three types of relationships:  very close, close and not-so-close.  All three are meaningful and play different roles.  Very close relationships give you ultimate trust and security, close relationships provide a sense of kinship, and the not-so-close relationships feed you with light interaction.  Family or friends – there’s no magical formula.  The important thing is to mix it up.

Seek out a meetup
If you spend time with people who share your interests, whether it’s musical theater or science fiction, you are comforted in being understood.  A 2012 survey of thousands of British adults found that having regular contact with 10 or more friends had a significant impact on an individual’s happiness level.   Follow your interests to meet more friends who love what you love.

Combine socializing with exercise
As part of a team, you feel included, plus you get much-needed human contact (sometimes a lot depending on the sport).  A Duke University study says group exercise can help boost your sense of self-accomplishment and belonging.  Exercise is sometimes considered as effective as drugs in treating all kinds of mood disorders, because it releases feel-good endorphins and boosts self-esteem.  So, don’t miss your spin class – it’s more than just a workout.

When you feel liked, loved and affirmed by your relationships, your mind and body relax.  When you feel that way more often, your immune system is actually supported – ergo, you’re healthier.  Deep, real relationships, plus quality time in numbers lead to spiritual and physical benefits that can last a lifetime.