Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Talk Deeply, Be Happy

Less small talk and more deep discussions about import things. According to one new study, this pattern of conversation is common to those who are happier. Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, study, published the study in the journal Psychological Science, which found a correlation between conversations on important topics and happiness.

What one small study can not show is whether talking about the meaning of life leads to happiness or whether it is happier people who spend less time on small talk. So we don't know cause and effect, but we do know that those who struggle with the meaning of life are those who find more meaning in their lives.

Not relying on self reporting, they actually recorded slices of conversation at random over a period of time. The study also did not rely on self-reporting alone with regards happiness, but interviewed persons who knew the subjects. According to a New York Times blog post on the study,
But the happiest person in the study, based on self-reports about satisfaction with life and other happiness measures as well as reports from people who knew the subject, had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third of the amount of small talk as the unhappiest, Dr. Mehl said. Almost every other conversation the happiest person had — 45.9 percent of the day’s conversations — were substantive, while only 21.8 percent of the unhappiest person’s conversations were substantive.
In summary, the journal article states,
Together, the present findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary, and conversationally deep rather than superficial.
Of course I like the study as I readily agree with the results. I have preached and taught for years that we are created for connectedness. For example, there is this sermon from May 2003, Koinonia—A Deeper Connectedness which uses the writings of Father Maximillian Kolb in comparison to the lead singer of Queen, Freddy Mercury. We were created for communion with God and with one another, so when we, by deeper conversations rather than small talk alone, connect to others we find greater happiness.

That's my take. What do y'all think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Sometime Deep Conversationlist



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