I have long recognized the importance of community, connection and fun. I have only to look at my aging family members for confirmation. Part of the “snowbird pack,” they each fly someplace warm to escape their icy cold Ontario winters. But escaping to these southern destinations is only secondary to the real reason they winter in Florida, Arizona and Texas. It’s community. Like little kids going off to summer camp, they can’t wait to depart. Checking who’s already there, when did they arrive, what activities are they already missing out on only heighten their need to get there as soon as possible.
When I retire I want to be just like them – hanging out with a bunch of people who like to have fun – golfing, tennis, ballroom dancing -sign me up. As human beings we need social connection – it’s as important as food and water. Brene Brown emphasizes this in her newest book, Braving the Wilderness (pg 54). She goes on to cite research done by Julieanne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton. Loneliness increases our odds of dying by 45% – trumping both obesity at 20% and excessive drinking by 30%. Yes, loneliness is clearly a killer – but a quiet one at that.
Social interactions make us live longer, healthier lives. In short – we need each other. We need to stay connected. Brown writes, “While social media is great for developing community and finding people – true belonging, real connections…require meeting people in real time face to face.”
Despite teasing my Aunt Barb about line dancing and social events that start at 5 pm and end by 9 p.m. they have actually nailed the fountain of youth – happy hour with friends!