I came across a statistic from a Gallup Poll the other day that stated: The happiest people in the world are those who have 6-7 hours of social connectivity in their days. Additionally, the same poll found that those who spend up to 6-7 hours amongst people report 12 times more enjoyment instead of stress in their daily lives.
In other words: People make life go round.
It’s no secret that a social life is part of a balanced, healthy and happy life, but I did not quite realize the magnitude to which people can affect our health—statistically speaking anyhow.
Being an entrepreneur, in the #1 city for entrepreneurship (Austin, Texas!—the ‘happiest place on earth’), it can be EASY to get into your own world.
I spend A LOT of time with my hand dandy computer, to my lonesome, at various coffee shops, writing, creating, dreaming, refining, drafting (book is in the works, as well as the development of an exciting new online program).
Before I know it, I can look up and 4 or 5 hours have passed—blink.
In order to ‘nourish’ my mind and my body, self-care is uber important:
- Vitamin D (sunshine!)
- Breaks away from the computer
- A daily exercise routine
- Good, nutrient dense, home cooked meals
People who have people in their lives are not only happier, but also healthier all around, and reading this statistic reminded me that, no matter how much work there is to be done, I NEEEEEEED to ensure I make time for people-time in my life (nourishes the soul).
Have you ever heard of the “Roseto Effect”?
The Rosetans were a group of people living in Roseto, Pennsylvania, a modest village of homogeneous Italian-Americans nestled in Eastern Pennsylvania.
These people weren’t just any people though—they were healthy people. Really healthy people.
Studies http://home/laurynlax/public_html.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1695733/ on mortality rates found striking differences in death from heart attacks between Roseto Pennsylvania, and other nearby towns, particularly between 1955 and 1965—practically none. They also found that many wealthier towns suffered from heart disease while Roseto did not (even though their medical facilities, diet and occupations were better than those available in Roseto).
ALL these facts, despite the seemingly counter-intuitive lifestyle habits and environmental conditions of the Rosetan people:
- High alcohol consumption
- Fried sausages, meatballs and hard cheeses were staples in their diets
- Harsh, toxic working conditions at the nearby slate quarries (inhaling gases, dusts and other pollutants)
- Frequent smoking of old-style Italian stogie cigars
- Discrimination from other surrounding groups (i.e. stress)
In order to ensure these results were not just random, the researchers evaluated the bigger picture, comparing the death certificates of the Rosetans to the more Americanized peoples over a 50-year period (1935-1985).
What they found?
While the Roseto people had a lower mortality rate from myocardial infarction over the course of the first 30 years, this rate rose to the level of other Americans following a period of erosion of the traditionally cohesive family and bonded community in the later 1960s.
Family bonding with Clark Griswold!
The researchers concluded that the existence of consistent mortality differences between Roseto and other Americanized cultures during the early years of the study were directly related to greater social relationships and a high-value for other people in the community.
Rosetan social culture looked like this:
- Families were close knit and self-supportive
- People were always willing to help one another out
- Marriage remained homogenous (Italians marrying Italians, sharing similar values and cultural norms)
- There was zero crime rate reported in community records
- Everyone respected each other—there were no ‘class systems’ (the wealthy did not flaunt their wealth)
- The elderly were part of the community (not institutionalized nor looked down upon), but were given purpose, many “installed” as informal judges and arbitrators in everyday life and commerce
What we can learn from this study?
Just like we need nutrient-dense foods, regular exercise, 7-9 hours of sleep, half our bodyweight in ounces of water and work-life balance…we need people.
What social connections have you made or scheduled this week? (Even as simple as talking to strangers you meet in a coffee shop or the grocery store checkout line!!!)
Next time that meet-up, mixer, lunch date, coffee chat, or Townlake walk comes up on your calendar, prioritize it like you do a meeting, appointment or other ‘to-do.’
“We all need somebody to lean on…”