We’ve talked before about how being connected to a purpose and meaning larger than yourself boosts your resilience and satisfaction and shields you against stress. As if that weren’t enough, it turns out that connection can also make you more attractive.
Psychologists at Southern Utah and Florida State Universities videotaped ‘subjects’ in a 5-minute conversation with a friend. Before the conversation, these folk had completed a questionnaire that measured their sense of meaning and purpose in life. Researchers watched the videos and rated how much they’d like to be friends with each subject. You guessed it – those people who rated higher on meaning, what we call connection, were viewed as more likable.
So how connected – or should I say, attractive – are you? Here’s a quick way to check.
Whether you’re an employee, a stay-at-home parent, or a student, ask yourself ‘why do I stay in my job?’.
If your answer is, “because I have no choice”, then you’re connected at the lowest level, Level 1. Other Level 1 responses include, “for the pay and the benefits”, “too close to retirement to leave”, and “can’t find anything else in this economy”. 15% of us are stuck at a “1”.
If you responded that you like what you do, you’re at Level 2. People at Level 2 need the pay check, but they also enjoy the work, like their colleagues, and welcome the challenge. A little over half of us make it to this level, but not beyond.
But 30% go further. That 30%, connected at the 3rd and highest level, believe that what they do contributes to something good, something worthwhile, something bigger than themselves. And for each step up in connection, we see a boost in resilience and satisfaction.
Here’s your second connection check. What gives you the greatest meaning in your life? About 80% of Americans say their families. For others, it’s all about personal goals – climbing Everest or planting their flag in the big corner office. And around 15% of people – just 1 in 6 – make it to the highest levels of connection to life. They find meaning in the charity work they do, donations of time to their kids’ school, involvement in their communities. Or, they are attached to something bigger than themselves – something that was here on the planet before they arrived and will be here after they’ve gone – such as their values, their spirituality, or their religious beliefs.
So how did you stack up? Is your work and life full of meaning and purpose?
Here’s something else those psychologists in Utah and Florida discovered. When it comes to being socially desirable, the less physically attractive the people in the video were, the more the sense of meaning mattered. Yet more evidence that physical appearance is not that important. And – even if you think that good looks are vital and you don’t have them – seems that having strong connection and sense of purpose can compensate.
Are you dating, or can recall a time when you were? Do you remember in the hours just before the date, the wistful looks in the mirror, the manic attempts to tame hair, the outfits thrown on and promptly discarded? If we really want to sweep that person off their feet, be the belle (or prince) of the ball, turns out we should spend less time on our looks and clothes and more time primping and preening our connection.