The evidence that humans are social creatures is comprehensive and undeniable. Reciprocal relationships are an essential aspect of wellness for human beings.
Paying closer attention to acquaintanceships, friendships, and kinships can help people to improve their health, success, and prosperity.
It is through our relating with other human beings that we grow and evolve – and how we deepen and expand our experience of love and meaning.
Marianne Williamson once famously stated, “when you get serious about The Universe, The Universe gets serious about you.” Among the most effective ways to show The Universe that you are serious about life, is by spending a little extra time and energy on the connections you have with particular people in your life.
The ultimate social experiment is to try to examine one’s own relationships with fresh eyes. It sounds easy, but, in reality, cultivating new relationships – and deepening existing ones – requires conscious effort and a strategy.
What you need to get started are:
- a positive attitude
- a relationship list
- and a relationship action plan
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Make A List of 28 People You Know Who You Like or Respect
If living a happy and healthy life is important to you – especially as you age – then you must pay attention to the relationships in your life. A good place to start is to identify the 28 biggest givers in your life.
Write down these 28 names of your most favorite, most-generous friends and acquaintances, and also write down when the last time was you reached out and connected with each person.
The number 28 is derived from the capacity of the human brain to form intimate attachments. It is thought to be around the upper limit of close adult friendships that one person can handle effectively.
You Can Cultivate Relationships that:
◕ increase your prosperity
◕ improve your health
◕ imbue your life with meaning
It’s connections with other human beings that turn life from black-and-white, into color.
The more healthy, intimate connections you have, the more vitality you will have in your later years – and research suggests (see sources below) the more of those later years you will actually have. A review of 148 studies found that people with strong social relationships are 50% less likely to die prematurely.
Some animals only thrive amidst an environment of healthy relationships. Additionally, prosperity often equates with the abundance of quality, reciprocal relationships in one’s life. So close connections with other people are even more than just the spiritual zest of life, they have practical, earthly implications, too.
Reciprocal, gratifying relationships are an important part of your successful aging strategy.
Any hospice volunteer will tell you that – in the end – the realizations people have as they are dying are related in some way to wishing that one had been more intentional with relationships while alive.
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Paying close attention to your connections with others is not an extra curricular activity – it’s the reason for life itself.
It is relationships that matter most, and any new wellness regimen that does not include a component for improving relationships is incomplete.
Interpersonal experts such as Brian Buffini, Keith Ferrazzi, and Michael Port passionately devote their entire professional lives to helping others understand this simple concept: to increase your success you must improve your relationships.
Relationships are proven not only to be good for our physical health, but our spiritual and emotional health as well. Longevity science is revealing a significant correlation between:
- the quality of the relationships in your life
- how long you will live
- how healthy and happy your remaining years of life will be
Healthy relationships are what provide you with the sensation of being fully alive – of being heard, seen, deeply known, and loved. Make your list of 28 relationships today – give yourself a month to reach out and connect with each of them. Think of it as your personal social experiment. After a month, you can determine for yourself in what ways your life feels enriched.
For those of you who happen to be an introvert, I encourage to remember that it’s much easier to remove negative people from your environment, than it is to add new positive people into your life. Removing negativity can be relatively fast and is the best place to start – adding positivity takes longer for adults, and is a process.
For an introvert – someone who recharges their emotional batteries in solitude – 28 is just an inspiring goal – not a mandatory requirement. Think of life as a delicious journey during which you get to add positive people gradually over time, as you get to know yourself better and better – and as opportunities arrive intermittently.
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• Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community – Robert Putnam – “Social Capital Primer” http://bowlingalone.com/?page_id=13
• Evolutionary Psychiatry – Steven Anthony – “Mood Disorders and Psychiatric Symptoms are Manifestations of Ancient Adaptive Strategies” http://www.anthonystevens.co.uk/evolutionary.htm
• 10 Types of Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of – Tim Urban – http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/12/10-types-odd-friendships-youre-probably-part.html
• On Consequences of Social Isolation – Miranda Bauer – “Building a Social Safety Net” https://www.bluezones.com/2012/04/friends-nourish-the-body-and-soul/
• Health risks from Isolation Comparable to Risks of Cigarette-Smoking – Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD – http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/relationships/why-personal-relationships-are-important