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How Connecting With Others Will Make You Live Longer

A good friend of mine just moved to New Zealand for school.  After being there for a month, she told me a remarkable thing.  Yes, it’s beautiful there, amazing weather, gorgeous hikes and vistas, and who can get bored of that accent!  But the thing that stood out the most was that everyone says hi and thank you to strangers!  Every person that gets on and off the bus makes eye contact says hello!  And THEN, every person getting off the bus (even at the rear door), stops make eye contact with driver, says Thank you! And gets off!!  EVERY SINGLE ONE!  It doesn’t matter, what age, gender, what part of town… EVERY SINGLE ONE!

I know what you’re thinking… well, this wasn’t just in the small towns, but also in Auckland, the city.  Even those glued to their smartphones with headphones on would stop take their earphones out, look up and make eye contact, say” thank you”, and mean it.

This made me reflect on our world we live in today.  Many of us are feeling disconnected. 

We are connected almost 24/7 to our devices, social media, our email, our work, but we are lacking connection with each other. 

Most people (myself included) have been guilty of not being completely present with our kids, spouses, parents, co-workers, ourselves and also strangers.  I think most would agree we are all craving it too!  We’ve allowed amazing advances in technology to lower our skills in having a regular conversation, in making eye contact, and in truly listening to the person in front of you.  I called a business the other day and spoke with a live person on the phone, had some dialogue where she understood what my question was... and then she asked me to send her all of that by email instead. 

Now what about strangers? 

There was a recent TED talk that discussed the strongest predictor of how long you’ll live? Julianne Holt-Lunstad researcher at Brigham Young University did a series of studies of  tens of thousands of middle aged people and looked at every aspect of their lifestyle.   The answer is not what you’d expect. It wasn’t exercise, diet, how many hours you worked.  What affected your chances of dying the most?  Your close relationships – who will sit with you in times of crisis, The number one factor: social integration. How much you interact with people throughout your day, not just those close to you but also the person who makes your coffee, the bus driver, the cashier at the grocery store or the person riding the elevator with you.

I had this conversation with one of our beloved practice members who drives a local city bus, he said his bus is like this, because he’s makes a point to say a bright hi to every person that gets on his bus!  I feel our office is like this too, but I could do better with strangers.  So I made a point of connecting with everyone I came into contact with.  And while there were a few that didn’t give me any love back, there were lots that did! 

What do you think ? Give it a try and let me know.  Spread a little connection everywhere you go.  Not only may it extend how long you’ll live but it most definitely will make it more enjoyable!

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