As human beings we have evolved to live within communities. For most of human evolution, we lived in tight-knit groups in order to survive. Modern living has changed that for many and created deep disconnection with our bodies, our food, our environment and perhaps most crucially with other human beings. It turns out that human connection is every bit as critical for our health as food, movement and sleep.
Socially isolated people have a much higher risk of disease and premature death even after controlling for things like diet and exercise. The reverse is true. People with deep connections to family and their communities with a sense of purpose and belonging also lead the healthiest longest lives.
Ironically, modern technology has made us more “connected” than ever before yet most of society has never been so lonely. Are we raising a generation of children that know only how to communicate through devices?
Watch this inspirational talk below. Robert Waldinger describes the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development which spanned 75 years and tracked the lives of 724 men.
The 3 key findings were:
- Loneliness kills and social connections are really good for us.
- It’s not the number of friends you have but the quality of the relationships that matter the most.
- Relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.
How can we start to build stronger community ecosystems?
Robert Lustig’s approach is that the pursuit of happiness is active and describes the possible solution as the 4 Cs.
- CONNECT – conversation, social support, religion
- CONTRIBUTE – self worth, altruisim, volunteerism, philanthropy
- COPE – sleep, mindfulness, exercise
- COOK – for yourself, your family, your friends
As it turns out, the 4 Cs are also linked with building and strengthening our community ecosystems. Even exercise can be done with friends and as part of a group which adds a wonderful social element to it.
Action for happiness is movement for positive social change. People come together from all walks of life to work towards creating a happier society. Their work is inspirational so please check out their website which describes lots of ways that you can start to take action towards building a happier and kinder world.
Mahatma Gandhi had said “Be the change you want to see”.
What are the Blue Zones?
These are areas in the world with health long-living populations – many of who live to be over a hundred years old in good health until they die. Scientists and researchers are studying populations in these areas to learn the secrets to healthy living into old age.
In the above diagram listing the 9 healthy lifestyle habits shared by these blue zoners, you will find that 4 of the 9 are linked with Community:
- Right Tribe
- Family First
- Know Your Purpose