Here is a compilation of many links and citations from credible authoritative sources that say this and validate my claims about the importance of social connection in your life, as well as the consequences of the lack of it. Next time someone tells you it's ok to stay in the US and be lonely, show them these links and excerpts below.
Social Connection Makes a Better Brain
Recent trends show that people increasingly value material goods over relationships—but neuroscience and evolution say this goes against our nature.
Why We Are Wired to Connect
Scientist Matthew Lieberman uncovers the neuroscience of human connections—and the broad implications for how we live our lives
The Transformative Power of Social Connection
Why You Should Have Friends
Social connection is the greatest predictor of happiness.
That is what Harvard researcher and happiness expert Shawn Achor has found after more than a dozen years studying the topic.
Social relationships are also vital to physical health. Human-behavior researcher and #1 New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath has found that social relationships help reduce stress and the risk of age-related memory loss. On the other hand, people with limited social interactions have almost twice the risk of dying from heart disease and are twice as likely to catch a cold.
Close relationships at work also lead to spikes in productivity. According to Rath, employees who have a best friend at work “are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher wellbeing, and are less likely to get injured on the job.”
Therefore, focusing on your relationships proves to be good for your career as well. Achor’s research has revealed that happiness causes success, not the other way around.
Happiness. Health. Productivity. Success. All of this can be achieved through social relationships.
Connect with Others
HOW CONNECTIONS HELP
Your friend gets your joke. Your co-worker offers congrats. Your spouse hugs you hello. They are all helping you bust stress and boost well-being. In fact, Mental Health America found that 71 percent of people surveyed turned to friends or family in times of stress.
Humans are social animals: We crave feeling supported, valued and connected.
Research points to the benefits of social connection:
* Increased happiness. In one compelling study, a key difference between very happy people and less-happy people was good relationships.
* Better health. Loneliness was associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure in a recent study of older people.
* A longer life. People with strong social and community ties were two to three times less likely to die during a 9-year study.
A search for social connection in America's town square: Times square and urban public life
Throughout the 20th century scholars, critics, and cultural practitioners explored relationships between urban space and public life. My ethnographic study of Times Square engages this larger conversation in an attempt to understand how images of a vibrant public sphere often collide with practices of everyday life. Because of the quantity of people who come to Times Square each year and the diversity of those people, the Square is an important place to locate and analyze questions about the construction and maintenance of a participatory public sphere. Further, photographs from the early part of the 20th century of crowds gathered in the Square to find out information via the newszipper at 1 Times Square, images of celebrations at the end of WWII, and footage of annual New Year's Eve celebrations in the district present Times Square as a site for collective action and social connection. I argue that these images conflict with an increasingly more prevalent desire by individuals in cities throughout the United States, including Times Square, to be left alone and feel comfortable in those places where they can be in presence of others while not having to give of themselves.
Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection INFOGRAPHIC
Social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being.
We all think we know how to take good care of ourselves: eat your veggies, work out and try to get enough sleep. But how many of us know that social connection is just as critical?
One landmark study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
On the other hand, strong social connection:
* leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
* strengthens your immune system (research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation)
* helps you recover from disease faster
* may even lengthen your life!
People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.
Unfotunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low levels of social connection are associated with declines in physical and psychological health as well as a higher likelihood for antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation.
Research unfortunately shows that loneliness is on the rise. Despite its clear importance for health and survival, research shows that social connectedness is waning at an alarming rate in the US. A revealing sociological study showed that the modal number of close others (i.e., people with whom one feels comfortable sharing a personal problem) Americans claimed to have in 1985 was only three. In 2004 it dropped to zero, with over 25% of Americans saying that they have no one to confide in. This survey suggests that one in four people that we meet may have no one they call a close friend!
This decline in social connectedness may explain reported increases in loneliness, isolation, and alienation and may be why research is finding that loneliness represents one of the leading reasons people seek psychological counseling.
People low in social connection are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, and even suicidal behaviors which tend to further increase their isolation. Most poignantly, a landmark survey showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, and physical activity! Eat your greens and exercise, yes, but don’t forget to connect.
Tedx Talk by Author:
Social relationships and health
JS House, KR Landis, D Umberson
+ Author Affiliations
Science 29 Jul 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4865, pp. 540-545
Recent scientific work has established both a theoretical basis and strong empirical evidence for a causal impact of social relationships on health. Prospective studies, which control for baseline health status, consistently show increased risk of death among persons with a low quantity, and sometimes low quality, of social relationships. Experimental and quasi-experimental studies of humans and animals also suggest that social isolation is a major risk factor for mortality from widely varying causes. The mechanisms through which social relationships affect health and the factors that promote or inhibit the development and maintenance of social relationships remain to be explored.
There is a growing body of research showing the importance of having positive relationships in our lives. In fact, the kinds of relationships as well as the number of social relationships we have greatly contribute to our overall mental and physical health (see Keyes, 1998; Ryff, 1995).
UCLA neuroscientist's book explains why social connection is as important as food and shelter
A growing body of research shows that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter, writes UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman in his first book, "Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect," published this week by Crown Publishers.
"Mammals are more socially connected than reptiles, primates more than other mammals, and humans more than other primates," Lieberman said. "What this suggests is that becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to make us more social."
Maintaining Healthy Social Connections Improves Well-Being
Researchers at University of Chicago have found that extreme loneliness increases a person’s chances of premature death by 14%. The impact of loneliness on premature death is nearly as strong as the impact of disadvantaged socioeconomic status, which they found increases the chances of dying early by 19%. In an unexpected finding, the researchers found that loneliness has double the impact of obesity on early death.
Connect To Thrive
Social Connection Improves Health, Well-Being & Longevity
We all know the basics of health 101: eat your veggies, go to the gym and get proper rest. But how many of us know that social connection is as important? Social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being. One telling study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. On the the flip side, strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system (research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being. Unfotunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low social connection has been generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health as well as a higher propensity to antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation.
Despite its clear importance for health and survival, sociological research suggests that social connectedness is waning at an alarming rate in the US. A revealing sociological study showed that the modal number of close confidantes (i.e., people with whom one feels comfortable sharing a personal problem) Americans claimed to have in 1985 was only three. In 2004 it dropped to one, with 25% of Americans saying that they have no one to confide in. This survey suggests that one in four people that we meet may have no one they call a close friend! This decline in social connectedness may explain reported increases in loneliness, isolation, and alienation and may be why studies are finding that loneliness represents one of the leading reasons people seek psychological counseling. Those who are not socially connected are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, and even suicidal behaviors which tend to further increase their isolation. Most poignantly, a landmark survey showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, and physical activity! Eat your greens and exercise, yes, but don't forget to connect.
Brene Brown, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializes in social connection. In an interview, she told me: “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” We are profoundly social creatures. We may think we want money, power, fame, beauty, eternal youth or a new car, but at the root of most of these desires is a need to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others, to be loved. We pride ourselves on our independence, on pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, having a successful career and above all not depending on anyone. But, as psychologists from Maslow to Baumeister have repeatedly stressed, the truth of the matter is that a sense of social connection is one of our fundamental human needs.
For those who doubt, just think of the sting of rejection. A brain imaging study led by Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan suggests that the same parts of the brain are activated during social rejection as during physical pain. Another recent study lead by Shelley Taylor at the University of California Los Angeles suggests that stress due to conflict in relationships leads to increased inflammation levels in the body. Both physically and psychologically, we experience social connection as positive and rejection or loneliness as negative.
Are you shy? Is it hard for you to meet people? Rest your worries. The most interesting fact about connection is that it has nothing to do with the number of friends you have on Facebook or the amount of community groups to which you belong. If you're a loner or an introvert, you can still reap the benefits. How is that possible? A sense of connection is internal: Researchers agree that the benefits of connection are actually linked to your subjective sense of connection. In other words, if you feel connected to others on the inside, you reap the benefits thereof! That is good news. While many of us cannot always control the number of friends we have, one thing we can take responsibility for is the state of our mind. Ever felt lonely in a crowd or a group of your own acquaintances? In the same way, it is possible to feel connected in a group of strangers. We can foster, nurture and build our internal sense of connection. It just takes a little courage and a spirit of adventure. In the next series of posts (updated weekly) I’ll be exploring science-based ways in which we can increase our social connection to others.
Happiness is being socially connected
Network, network, network. Adults in the business world certainly know how important it is to stay connected to their colleagues and peers if they are to have successful careers, but did you know that the number and strength of our social connections are also very important for happiness?
The upshot of 50 years of happiness research is that the quantity and quality of a person's social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated. People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.
We live in a world where social media (like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and text messaging) make it easier to be "connected" to loads of people all the time. Many of us also live in a society that values privacy and independence over proximity and interdependence. Americans dream of country homes where they can go days without seeing any neighbors. Setting aside that happiness can come from establishing our connection to nature and monk-like training retreats, physical isolation is a recipe for loneliness—a particularly potent form of sadness. When it comes to happiness, teaching our kids to value and foster proximity and connection is a much better bet than a house with a long gravel driveway.
Robert Putnam wrote an interesting book, Bowling Alone, about how we Americans are becoming less and less connected to one another. As a parent, it makes me think about how we spend our time: if our happiness is best predicted by the quantity and quality of our relationships with others, how can we foster lots of strong relationships between our family and our communities? I often feel so busy—sometimes too busy to spend time with my friends. But then I think about what I'm modeling there: if I'm too busy for my friends, what DO I have time for? Little is more important for our over-all well-being than our relationships with other people.
Social ties are good for your health
We may all know that relationships with friends and family add immensely to the quality of life. But did you also know that such social ties can help us live longer? BeWell talks to Cecile Andrews, author and a former affiliated scholar with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, about why it is healthy to forge connections to others.
Being connected to others is nice, but is it important?
In our crazy society, social ties are pretty far down on our “to do” lists, but connection to others is turning out to be more important than we thought. Studies indicate that “social capital” is one of the biggest predictors for health, happiness, and longevity. The problem: we often do not recognize the importance of social connection. Our culture values hard work, success, and wealth, so it’s no surprise some of us do not set aside enough time for social ties when we think security lies in material things rather than other people.
Olds and Schwartz (Associate Clinical Professors of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School) argue in The Lonely American that loneliness is often mistaken for depression. Instead of connecting with others, we consume a pill. Being lonely is outside of our individualistic world view so we don’t even see it as a problem.
Harvard’s Robert Putnam writes about social capital in his book, Bowling Alone, and shows how social ties are not only important for personal well-being, but also for our democracy. To paraphrase Putnam, “the culture in which people talk to each other over the back fence is the culture in which people vote.” Apparently, when you feel part of a group, you’re more likely to contribute to it — such as by voting.
Does research show convincingly that social ties really improve health?
Yes, and there are many studies, but it is difficult to determine the quality of the research unless you examine it closely. Some studies focus on short-term health benefits such as reduced incidence of colds and flu. Other research looks at longevity, alleging that the number of friends correlates with longer life. Still other studies have found that people have better survival rates for diseases when they have social support. Not long ago I heard a cardiologist compare social isolation to smoking, saying that loneliness is the new tobacco.
One of my favorite books is The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, by Robert E. Lane, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale. His book brings together much of the research done on social capital over the last several years and shows how social ties not only affect our personal health, but also our societal health. He observes that as prosperity in a society increases, social solidarity decreases. Happiness not only declines, people become more distrustful of each other as well as their political institutions. Lane argues that we must alter our priorities; we must increase our levels of companionship even at the risk of reducing our income.
I’ve often wondered why we require so many studies to prove that we need each other and that it is important to care for each other. I would simply call it wisdom.
CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and build connections is essential for happiness. 
Our connections with other people are at the heart of happiness - theirs and ours. Whether these connections are with our partners, families, friends, work colleagues, neighbours or people in our broader communities, they all contribute to our happiness. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology puts it simply as: "Other people matter".
Scholars and scientists agree about the central importance of relationships for our wellbeing and our happiness.  Many studies have shown that both the quality and quantity of social connections have an impact on our health and longevity as well as psychological wellbeing. 
Not having close personal ties poses the same level of health risk as smoking or obesity. Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support appears to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older. 
Strong Social Connections Linked to Better Health
Eating healthy food and exercising play important roles in health and well-being, but if you are feeling lonely, you may also want to consider reaching out: A lack of social connection may have a negative impact on your physical health, new research suggests.
The single most important thing we can do for our happiness
Love and connection has always been -- and will always be -- the answer.
If you consider yourself a naturally social person, you're probably not surprised to hear that spending time with friends and family is proven to make you happier. But even if your'e anti-social, don't skip this one---it turns out that you'll be happier when you hang out with others, too. Really!
Research into the impact of social behavior on health and longevity has been going on for years, with study after study concluding that humans are, simply put, social creatures who require connections with other humans in order to thrive.
In fact, lack of social connection is being called a greater overall health risk than smoking! Being lonely impacts your immune system as well as your susceptibility to anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviors. (It's easy to see how this can create a vicious cycle; poor social connections cause in increase in the very behaviors which interfere with those connections, which means more of those behaviors, etc.)
The larger point, he adds, is that “the benefits of a connected life”—whether the connections are in person, by phone, or online—“far outweigh the costs. Even though things like violence and suicide and germs and slander can spread in networks, so too do love and happiness and kindness and altruism and news. And the benefits of those things compensate for the spread of bad things.”
Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy
Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health. This article describes key research themes in the study of social relationships and health, and it highlights policy implications suggested by this research.
Captors use social isolation to torture prisoners of war—to drastic effect. Social isolation of otherwise healthy, well-functioning individuals eventually results in psychological and physical disintegration, and even death. Over the past few decades, social scientists have gone beyond evidence of extreme social deprivation to demonstrate a clear link between social relationships and health in the general population. Adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers. This article describes major findings in the study of social relationships and health, and how that knowledge might be translated into policy that promotes population health. Key research findings include: (1) social relationships have significant effects on health; (2) social relationships affect health through behavioral, psychosocial, and physiological pathways; (3) relationships have costs and benefits for health; (4) relationships shape health outcomes throughout the life course and have a cumulative impact on health over time; and (5) the costs and benefits of social relationships are not distributed equally in the population.