Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR
Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR

The doors open wide, you enter, and they close behind you. As the elevator begins its ascent, you realize it’s just you and one other person taking this ride. The silence soon grows uncomfortable.

Pop quiz. What’s your go-to move?

A) Stare at your shoes.

B) Pull out your cellphone.

C) Make brief eye contact.

D) Initiate chitchat.

If your answer was B, you’re like far too many of us, eyes glued to our phones, attention focused on the digital world.

Many of us tend to do just about anything to avoid conversation or even eye contact with strangers. And smartphones make it easier than ever to do that. A recent study found that phones can keep us from even exchanging brief smiles with people we meet in public places. But a body of research has shown that we might just be short-changing our own happiness by ignoring opportunities to connect with the people around us.

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