Most of us live alone inside ourselves more than is good for us. Whenever we are out, there are people to meet, people ready for a good conversation, some human warmth, eye contact, a smile.

In a study on being social, behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder went up to commuters in a Chicago train station and asked them — in return for a $5 Starbucks gift card — to talk to the stranger who sat down next to them on the train that morning. Other commuters, also gifted with Starbucks cards, were told to follow the commuter norm of keeping to themselves. By the end of the train ride, the commuters who talked to a stranger reported having a more positive experience than those who sat quiet and alone.

Talking to people, even to strangers, it turns out, makes us feel better. Even making eye contact has been shown to make us feel more connected.

Lately I’ve had some fun interactions with bank tellers, with store checkers, with dental assistants, with neighbors. They were short, but they all left me feeling a little better, a little less alone, a little happier.

Life is a reach, of warmth, toward each other, or it is a clutch of protection, inwardly, where we wad up our inner human linings in our fists and scurry home in the cold — alone.

I recommend the reach.

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