Looking to feel a little better every day without much effort? Say “hello” to your neighbors.
Those who regularly greet multiple people in their neighborhood report higher levels of well-being than those who do not do so, according to a recent Gallup poll of more than 4,500 adults in the U.S.
And the more neighbors you greet — at least, up to the half-dozen mark — the better you are likely to feel.
On a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing the lowest well-being score possible, those who do not greet any neighbors have a Gallup Well-Being Index score of 51.5.
By contrast, those who routinely greet an average of six neighbors have a score of 64.1. Greeting more than six neighbors does not substantially increase well-being, however.
On average, Americans say hello to five neighbors on a regular basis, although Gallup did not define what it considered a regular basis. Only 27% regularly greet six or more.
People under age 30 regularly say hello to 2.9 neighbors, on average, while those age 65 and older greet 6.5 neighbors.
You are somewhat more likely to greet higher numbers of neighbors if you have children under 18 in your household or have an annual household income of at least $120,000.
Gallup notes that social well-being is linked to positive outcomes such as:
- Reduced stress
- Faster healing
- Better engagement at work
A separate but related index, Gallup’s Life Evaluation Index, classifies Americans as “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering” based on how they rate their current and future lives.
The chances of being categorized as “thriving” jump from just 38.1% among those who do not regularly say hello to anyone in their neighborhood to 60.5% among those who say hello to five people.
Earlier Gallup research found that people in the U.S. are more likely to interact with neighbors than people in Mexico, India and France.
The impact of social interactions on well-being is not consistent across all demographics. For example, Gallup has found that older adults require less social time to boost their mood (three hours with friends or family each day) compared with adults under age 30 (seven hours).
According to Gallup:
“As we age, social interactions typically become more limited, but with those opportunities tending to yield bigger boosts of happiness and enjoyment, it may help to explain why those 65 and older are investing in neighborly relationships at higher rates than younger adults.”
For more on boosting your mood, check out “The 10 Commandments of Wealth and Happiness.”