It seems you actually can find happiness at the bottom of a bottle – so long as it’s not your only companion.
A new study from Oxford University found that drinking in moderation at a local pub with your friends can improve your overall well-being.
In fact, those who frequented local drinking establishments were happier, more satisfied with their lives and had more friends, according to the research published in the journal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology.
The researchers say this may be due to the fact that drinking plays a major role in promoting social cohesion by releasing endorphins that increase happiness and encourage bonding.
“This study showed that frequenting a local pub can directly affect peoples’ social network size and how engaged they are with their local community, which in turn can affect how satisfied they feel in life,” said professor Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology department, adding that “our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness.”
“While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socializing, alcohol’s role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding,” he said. “Like other complex bonding systems such as dancing, singing and storytelling, it has often been adopted by large social communities as a ritual associated with bonding.”
The researchers combined data from three separate studies – a questionnaire given to pub clientele, a study on conversational behavior in bars and a national survey by the Campaign for Real Ale – to determine whether the frequency of alcohol consumption or the kind of venue impacted peoples’ happiness.
They discovered that those who have a local pub that they visit routinely tend to feel more socially connected and happy, while also being more likely to trust others in their community. People who drank regularly at a local spot had an average of eight close friends, compared with six for non-drinkers.
The researchers also found that those who frequented local pubs tended to socialize in smaller groups, an atmosphere that fosters whole-group interaction as opposed to those drinking in larger groups at more mainstream bars.
“Personal wellbeing and happiness have a massive impact not only on individual lives, but on communities as a whole,” said Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s national chairman.
“Pubs play a unique role in offering a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting.”
h/t The Telegraph