Your best 150 friends

Culture, health and community can be nurturing or they can be toxic

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Grant County, West Virginia

The most important issues in culture are also some of the most important in our health.

Safety, openness and trust, purpose and connections.

The opposites of these are fear, rigidity and control, loss of meaning and hope, and isolation.

Many organizational cultures are toxic to our health. Many personal cultures are toxic to our health.

Our evolution was based on deep connections, purpose, love, safety and collaboration.

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar believes there is a number for the most people you can truly know – for most people, about 150. This is Dunbar’s number.

He reasons that this number comes from our evolution. In the ancient world, before the development of cities and agriculture, a village of 150 people was about the largest viable community of people – big enough to protect each other and small enough to feed each other.

Dunbar believes we are carrying that memory in our DNA, in our memories and in our stories. 

What if our professional, governmental and personal culture is contributing the level of illness and disease we experience?

We live in a “dog eat dog world,” and wage wars on cancer, drugs, immigration, and heart disease.

We measure success with quantitative metrics. But it is obvious that many objectively successful companies and people are miserable. Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Unhealthy.


Because our health comes from embracing each other as ourselves.

As droplets of the same ocean. Doors of the same house.

Together as one.

Seeing ourselves as whole, while embracing our individual creativity makes the world more interesting, more vivid, more enjoyable.

But only if we see it like this.

If not, we become jealous, envious, judgmental and ego-driven. We suffer relative deprivation, where we endlessly compare ourselves to others, as opposed to being at peace with our life.

Me versus you. Not me with you. Not us.

Parts competing with each other. Not whole, but fragmented.

Remember whole is the root word for health.

Remember, wealth is wanting what you have, not having what you want. Wealth is enjoying your life and finding the joy and miracle in all you do.

This is why I think that great culture at every level is the foundation of great health.

Not a reducible recipe to be followed, but a deep feeling of love, joy, connectedness, purpose, safety and abundance to be experienced and shared.

Almost heaven.

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