Exploring Trilogy®’s Fifth Pillar of Wellness: Social Connection by Dr. Roger Landry MD MPH
We are better together. Despite peoples’ tendency to be annoying at times, despite the fact that we may have been hurt in the past, despite the grief we feel when we lose a loved one…we need connection to others. We need others for quality of life, to grow, to soothe us in scary times, and yes, to be healthy.
We are social creatures and have been since our ancestors first walked the earth. Had they not banded together and provided mutual support, humans would not have survived, and you and I would not be here today. Over eons of time, this requirement has been firmly entrenched into our very DNA, and although how we live has dramatically changed since our ancestors lived, we are still wired to connect with others, including pets.
Yes, we need our alone time also, probably more today than ever, but at our core, it is social connection that rules if we are to be healthy and fulfilled. The research on this is extremely compelling. Multiple long-term studies have confirmed that without substantive social connection, we are two-to-five times more likely to experience heart disease, cancer, dementia, and, of course, depression. Likewise, solid connection to at least a few others, is associated with remarkably less risk for, again, heart disease, cancer and dementia. Lacking social connection equals the health risk associated with smoking a half-pack of cigarettes per day.
A World of Loneliness
The Masai have a saying: “We are not human unless we are with other humans.” Yet in today’s societies, loneliness has become a scourge, especially as we age. Britain, Canada and Ireland have responded by appointing Ministers of Loneliness to deal with this threat to health, both physical and mental, as well as to quality of life.
As residents of Trilogy, you have chosen to live where the opportunities to maintain and grow social connection are abundant. However, opportunity doesn’t guarantee connection. Relationships of any kind require deliberate attention and cultivation in order to sprout, stay meaningful, and grow. And this is where we often find ourselves wanting. In a society where division is rampant, where, because many of us are living lives that do not provide the lifestyle needs, we have been discussing all this year, we are more often contentious than welcoming, suspicious rather than accepting. The result is absence of those friendships which sustain us through life’s slings and arrows.
In the Emotional Confidence article, we addressed some critical elements of forming and keeping meaningful relationships. Here are some of those tips along with some others.
Tips to Ensure Lifelong Social Connection
Nurture current relationships - Social connections, especially those made relatively recently, require “touches” both literally and figuratively. Although physically being present with friends and family is best, phone calls, texts, emails and even letters can provide the nutrients for continued growth of these relationships. Make a list of people you value and track the touches you share with them.
Reconnect with people who’ve dropped out of your life - Technology now enables us to be able to find people who we lost along our life’s way. Seeking out those who were particularly important in your life can be a very pleasurable experience, if only for the memories it brings. Most often, these former friends are thrilled to reconnect.
Be open to new friendships - Oftentimes, as we age, we feel we don’t have the energy to foster new friendships. However, that energy is the stuff of a healthy longevity lifestyle…a growth and open mindset that will be like a magnet to others. Make a point of engaging a potential new friend regularly.
Practice Compassion - The Dalai Lama tells us “If you want others to be happy, have compassion. If you want to be happy, have compassion.” In a world filled with division and vitriol, compassion is a balm which beckons others to us.
Forgive - The person who benefits most from forgiveness is the forgiver, for no longer must they carry the burden of anger, disappointment and isolation. Nelson Mandela was able to forgive those who imprisoned him for over 25 years, and it ultimately led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Give up the need to be right - You will become a rock star of social connection if you can practice this even just part of the time. This is about allowing the other person to have an opinion contrary to yours. If you reflect, you will most likely realize you probably have never changed anyone’s opinion on anything. Why sacrifice the powerful benefits of social connection because the other person differs from you? Isn’t variety the spice of life? Why not add some spice to yours?
Fill your life with people…and pets. An African proverb says it all: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Legal: Opinions are those of the author, Dr. Roger Landry. Construction: SHALC GC, Inc. (AZ ROC#291056) (CA CSLB #1062050) (ID # RCE-56939) (NC #75061) (NV #0080574) (VA #2705152813) (WA #SHALCGI863P9). Shea Homes Limited Partnership (CA CSLB #855368). Shea Homes, Inc. (CA CSLB #672285). Sales: Shea Homes Marketing Company (CalDRE #01378646) (FL #CQ1034437). Shea Communities Marketing Company (AZ DRE #CO001121001) (ID #CO53675) (NC #C25840) (NV #B.1002134.CORP) (WA #19548). Homes in Bickford Ranch, Lake Frederick, Lake Norman, Summerlin, Sunstone, Orlando, Tehaleh, Valor, Vineyards and Vistancia locations are intended for occupancy by at least one person 55 years of age or older, with certain exceptions. Encanterra, Verde River, and Wickenburg Ranch are all-ages communities with select 55+ neighborhoods. Monarch Dunes is an all-ages community. Use of the golf course and club is at the pleasure of the club owner, and requires payment of additional fees. The Polo Club is private and requires the purchase of a separate membership from the club owner to access the club and its amenities. Golf courses at Encanterra, Verde River, and Wickenburg Ranch are planned to be private and access requires purchase of a separate golf membership from the course owner. Pricing does not include options, elevation, or lot premiums, effective date of publication and subject to change without notice. All square footages and measurements are approximate and subject to change without notice. IN ARIZONA, A PUBLIC REPORT IS AVAILABLE ON THE STATE REAL ESTATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE. This is not intended to be an offer to sell, nor a solicitation of an offer to buy real estate to residents of any state or jurisdiction prohibited by law. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Equal Housing Opportunity.