The Village Effect
The end of January is a time to reflect on resolutions. Did you make any for 2019? If so, have you kept them? I took a poll at the Rotary Club of Portland's weekly meeting and was happy to see how many of my fellow Rotarians kept their hands raised for both questions.
I’m not surprised. Rotarians are a resolute bunch (our motto is “Service Above Self,” after all). And while I don’t have numbers to back it up, I’m convinced Rotarians live longer and richer lives because of things that have little to do with “typical” new year resolutions (e.g., food, exercise, money).
According to psychologist Susan Pinker, author of The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier, the two main predictors of a long life are social connection and social integration.
Social connection means having close, in-person friendships that sustain you during good times and bad and which, according to Pinker, “create a biological force field against disease and decline.” Social interaction refers to the number of people you interact with throughout the day, from coffee shop baristas to gas station attendants, cashiers, clerks, teachers, neighbors and more. The more you engage with the people around you, the happier and healthier you are.
It’s never too late for resolutions. If your plan is to eat healthier or exercise more, start now! At the same time, commit to becoming a better connector. Prioritize real-world, face-to-face relationships and interact with people around you. (And join a service organization like Rotary. I highly recommend it!)