What Your Choice of Friends Means For Your Health

This is an article about some ideas that helped me understand people on a whole new level. Subscribe here to get a sneak peek of my upcoming book, which helps you find clarity and confidence in your relationships.

photo credit: octavius

photo credit: octavius

Whether it’s when we celebrate a birthday or when we wonder how our grandparents are doing, we all face reality one day: we’re getting older.

None of us can escape aging, but we can decide what to do about the years we do have. Is it possible to have healthy, vibrant years late in our lives? And if so, how?

Welcome to the Blue Zone

I heard a talk by National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner, who found something extraordinary. There are a few tiny pockets of people who have much higher life spans and higher quality of life in those years, too. They weren’t all in one area, but scattered around the world: a town in Japan, in Costa Rica, a couple islands in the Mediterranean, and even one community in Southern California.

They’re called Blue Zones, and they’re a fascinating picture of what it looks like to live a healthy, active, connected life even beyond 90 or 100 years old. Though geographically separated, each of these pockets of people demonstrated the same few characteristics that contributed to their longevity and vitality.

Maybe we could learn from them. Maybe a great life isn’t so difficult after all.

The markers of longevity in those Blue Zones came down to diet, exercise built into daily tasks, consistent breaks to slow down and de-stress, a reason to wake up in the morning, and the people closest to them.

The Biggest Impact To Your Health

“The foundation of all this is how they connect. They put their families first, take care of their children and their aging parents. They all tend to belong to a faith based community which is worth 4-14 extra years of life expectancy if you do it four times a month. And the biggest thing here is they also belong to the right tribe. They were either born into or they proactively surrounded themselves with the right people.” – Dan Buettner

All of my life, I thought that being healthy meant I had to focus on myself, my eating, my exercising, my mental capabilities, staying positive for myself, and the like. Who would have guessed that focusing on our own health only misses the point?

Your health isn’t just about what you do; it includes who you connect with.

“We know from the Framingham studies that if your three best friends are obese, there’s a 50 percent better chance that you’ll be overweight. Instead, if your friends’ idea of recreation is physical activity, if your friends drink a little but not too much, and they eat right, and they’re engaged, and they’re trusting and trustworthy, that is going to have the biggest impact over time.” – Buettner

Are Your Friends A Health Risk?

So when you look around at your closest three or four friends, what will you become? Does your answer frighten you or excite you?

We become the people we’re surrounded by. (tweet that)

The choices your friends make will impact the choices you make. They can help propel you further, stagnate in the present, or pull you back into habits of your past.

Does this mean you need to reset some boundaries on a current relationship? Do you need to restart an old friendship? If you want deep, enriching relationships that have the best impact on you, make your friendships exclusive.

“Your friends are long term adventures and therefore perhaps the most significant things you can do to add more years to your life and life to your years.”


This is an article about some ideas that helped me understand people on a whole new level. Subscribe here to get a sneak peek of my upcoming book, which helps you find clarity and confidence in your relationships.

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Based on the three or four people you’re most closely surrounded by, what will you be like in five or ten years? Is that what you want to be like? Share your comments below.

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