What Happened When I Prioritized Human Connection For a Week

The benefits of reaching out to a new person every day

It can be hard to make New Year’s resolutions that stick. It can be even harder when you’re not seeing results! We’re here to help you out: For our New Year, New You series with Walmart, we asked different influencers to test out some real, attainable wellness challenges from experts in their fields — and to journal about their results. Next up? Mental health. 

The Challenge: 

Gretchen Rubin, happiness expert and author of The Happiness Project, studies the impact of various activities on a person’s wellbeing. She gave a seven-day framework for anyone trying to boost their mood, energy and mental clarity…

Connect with at least one friend per day — whether that’s through something more significant, like a phone call or meeting for a walk, or just sending a text, funny photo, or link — anything to keep a connection going. 

Ancient philosophers and scientists agree: strong social ties are the KEY to happiness. You need close, long-term relationships; you need to be able to confide in others; you need to belong; you need to get and give support. Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.” Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression.”

The Subject: 

Kenny B. Cable, a Walmart front-end coach in Kingsport, TN. 

This particular challenge spoke to me because I’m passionate about finding ways to overcome my social anxiety. I often find myself not wanting to connect with people, or being afraid to connect with them, and I’ll make excuses that I don’t have enough time to hang out with or call people.  

The Seven-Day Diary: 

Day 1: Connect with a childhood friend. For my first step of this journey, I reached out to my childhood friend Candice, who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We discussed how much life has changed in positive ways since we were kids and made plans to catch up so I could meet her daughter soon. 

Day 2: Reminisce with old friend.I spoke with a longtime friend Jackie about the times we’ve traveled together, and had so much fun with her family and friends. I told her that those times really helped me break out of my shell and learn to enjoy life and not focus so heavily on the negatives. 

Day 3: Chat with a former co-worker. I talked with a friend who I hadn’t talked with for many years. Michelle and I worked together at Walmart in Johnson City, Tennessee, as customer service managers. We talked about the early days of becoming leaders, and how being a leader can be so much fun because of the teamwork involved. 

Day 4: Confide in someone you trust. I made plans to have lunch with Erica, a fellow front end coach with Walmart. Each time we get together, it brings a smile to my face. I consider her a confidant; it’s so important to have that friend who you can confide in no matter what!

Day 5: Reach out to a family member. I reached out to my Mom and we talked a long time about the importance of family and how she is proud to be my Mom. I love you Mom!

Day 6: Catch up with a role model. I talked with Brenda, who is someone I admire and look up to as a mentor. We talked about the road to finding happiness in life..

Day 7: Brainstorm with a teammate. I talked on the phone for over an hour with a coworker about how he could engage with his team to create healthy and positive change within his store. We also discussed the importance of showing gratitude for the little things our associates do each day.

The Results: 

I found time to reach out, and  I’m going to start making active decisions to connect with other people instead of letting that social anxiety hinder me. Going forward, after this challenge, I’m making a commitment to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and maintain these healthy and positive connections not only with others, but also with myself.

Consult with your doctor before you start any new routine or diet.