Why We Need People Who Mirror Our Enthusiasm


We know it is important for our mental health to have a social network we can rely on.

A circle of family and friends, people who welcome us despite our flaws, is an important aspect of well-being. Having a sense of belonging may be as important to our health and longevity as diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.

Something not discussed as often is the importance of having people in our lives who share our enthusiasms. We may have an extensive network of family and friends who care about us – but not about those topics of interest that cause our face to light up. What happens to our excitement over bugs, space stations, or a new stir-fry recipe if we are never around people who mirror our joy?

An Example

Imagine you are eating dinner out with a half dozen close friends. After talking with them about the usual subjects over appetizers and entrees, you tell your friends about a recent science experiment that “blows your mind.”

Your eyes are bright with amazement as you explain how photons, or light particles, can transmit DNA information. You briefly share how this might successfully treat life-threatening diseases. Just thinking about it has your adrenaline spiking – but then the spike crashes.

Your friends look back at you with blank, bored eyes. They do not share your enthusiasm; it runs off the table like a spilled glass of water. These people are friends who care about you, but they cannot wax enthusiastic over an interest that is not theirs. It is not their fault.

Yet what happens to your excitement over DNA research (or bugs) if it is never shared with people who reflect your awe?

Who Mirrors Your Joy?

It is possible that being unable to share our amazement with like-minded people dampens our life force, contributing to an overall feeling of emotional flatness and sense of hopelessness. Since enthusiasm is contagious, it is also conceivable that our excitement for life will flourish if we spend time with those who share our unique assortment of passions.

Those who genuinely mirror your enthusiasms validate you in a way others cannot. So if you suffer from depression and know no one who gets goosebumps over your favorite topics or activities, consider searching for people who do. Knowing individuals who share your deepest interests may fan the flame of your enthusiasm and help to relieve the doldrums of depression.

If meeting like-minded people does not have an up-lifting effect on your mood, you will still have strengthened your social network; you cannot lose.


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