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Study finds a simple ‘hello’ to the bus driver can increase your happiness

Study finds a simple ‘hello’ to the bus driver can increase your happiness

While it may seem simple, small acts such as saying "hello" to your bus driver can do a lot to boost your own sense of happiness. 

Study finds a simple ‘hello’ to the bus driver can increase your happiness

A quick “hello” or “have a nice day” to strangers can increase your level of happiness, new research has found.

The paper, ‘Minimal Social Interactions with Strangers Predict Greater Subjective Well-Being’, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, looked at two studies around our daily social interactions and the flow-on effect on our own happiness.

In the first study, scientists looked at how often commuters would greet or say “thank you” to their bus drivers and asked participants to report on their overall life satisfaction.

The researchers found that an increase in “positive social interactions” with drivers was linked with higher reports of better life satisfaction and wellbeing.

The second study analysed the commuters’ sense of wellbeing straight after interacting with drivers. Approaching potential participants as they waited for the bus, the researchers invited them to take part in the study.

Half of them were told to initiate a positive social interaction with the driver, such as saying “have a nice day” or “thank you” when hopping off the bus. The other half acted as the control group and were told to not speak with the driver.

Similar to the first study, the results showed that people with a positive interaction with the driver reported a greater sense of wellbeing after their commute.

Interestingly, the authors say the results may be explained through the “find-remind-and-bind” theory.

Showing gratitude to the driver might help build (“find”) new social connections we might otherwise overlook. The act of expressing gratitude can “remind” us how strangers improve our lives and thus, “binds” us to new people and increases our sense of belonging, therefore boosting happiness.

So, next time you hop off the bus or encounter a stranger, why not say a little “hello” or “thank you”?

“Simply taking a moment to greet, express good wishes, or say thank you to strangers is linked with greater happiness in everyday life,” the authors concluded.

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