Emotional Intelligent Wellness -Connection
I woke up in a cabin with no TV and no internet. I lazily read books beside my wife, felt the warmth of a roaring fireplace while playing games, and savored a gorgeous sunset from the wide back porch with the whole family. If my day sounds like a country song, it is because it was, I could literally see a deer stand from the back porch! Seriously, though, my life felt filled to the brim with love, natural beauty, and simplicity. I felt that deepest kind of gratitude that can only come from one place– being surrounded by people I love and who love me.
“Why is connection important?”
Let’s go back to the scene of me lazily reading on the porch beside Trish. If you could zoom in on the picture, you would find the title of my book– “Brain Rules for Aging Well.” It is a phenomenal book by a phenomenal developmental molecular biologist and writer by the name of John Medina. The book artfully explains the brain research behind aging and what we can do to realistically become that 90-year-old we dreamed about the other day.
So, what are the secrets to having a healthy, old brain? I’m only a chapter in, but I can already tell you a big one: relationships. In one 12-year study, 1,140 seniors were measured for their social activity and their cognitive health; the group that socialized most showed a whopping 70% less mental decline than those with little to no social activity.
Now that I knew the facts, I had to have a talk with myself, and so do you. Am I doing the best that I can to prioritize the relationships that will give me a long, healthy, meaningful life?
“How can I live out my life with a focus on my relationships?”
Medina’s book brought up an interesting question for me. He writes a sentence that is intended as a backdrop to another topic, but it grabbed me immediately. Here it is:
“While you maintain your closest relationships with five people at a time, researchers find, you can have meaningful relationships of varying quality with an additional 150 people.”
Wait a minute, back up there, your closest relationships with five people? I thought about it; can I really claim that I make a strong effort to maintain really close relationships with five people in my life? No, I can’t honestly say I do. I felt ashamed about this, but then I asked my (super relationship-oriented) wife the same question. She, too, had to think long and hard about who those five people would be. So, it wasn’t just me. I got to writing, and I invite you to do the same.
Can you list the five people in your life with whom you would like to have the closest of connections? While you’re at it, can you brainstorm the effortful action steps you will take to solidify each person on your list? I am one day in, and I have already started following my plan for energizing these close relationships. I think our brains, hearts, and loved ones will thank us for the effort.
Marc Baisden MACP, CMHC, MIN (all rights reserved Feb 2019)