By Gretchen Rubin, author, “The Happiness Project”
1. Twitter helps you maintain loose relationships and strengthen strong relationships. Technology allows you to keep a better handle on friends, acquaintances, and virtual acquaintances. Far more than ever before, I’m vaguely aware of a huge number of people, some of whom I “know” and some I don’t “know,” and although that sounds overwhelming, it makes my life warmer and richer.
2. Twitter allows you to pursue your passion – even if only in your imagination. A key to a happier life is to have fun; people who regularly have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy. But if you can’t find the time, or if you’d like to spend even more time on your passion, Twitter is a great source of conversation. If you love cheese, Mad Men, green technology, or knitting, you can find other people who are interested in the same thing, day or night.
3. Twitter lets you help other people. Do good, feel good. If you have friends who raise money for a charity, who write books or articles, who perform music, who advocate for a cause, or otherwise want to direct attention someplace – or if you want to help strangers who are doing these things — Twitter lets you shine a spotlight on their activities or on issues that you think are important. I periodically try to persuade people to commit to being organ donors.
4. Twitter makes gathering information easier. If you follow people who share your interests, they’ll help you keep abreast of everything happening in that area. And if you have a general question, crowd-sourcing it to Twitter is a great way to get an answer.
Twitter has one major drawback for happiness: it uses up time, and time is in short supply for most of us. It’s true, it’s an efficient way to scan headlines, keep up with passions, and connect with people, but the fact is, it may tempt you to spend too much time engaging with it, or to procrastinate from doing other, less enticing work. Use it well.
2011 Pennsylvania Conference for Women keynote speaker Gretchen Rubin is author of the #1 New York Times and international bestseller, “The Happiness Project.”