There is this story of a corporate CEO and his wife who were travelling by car. They stopped for refuelling and to get something to drink. While the husband went inside to get a cold drink, the wife was actively engaged in conversation with the pump attendant.
When the husband got back into the car and drove away, he asked his wife what was all the talking about. The wife said she had dated this guy in high school.
Hearing this the husband boasted ‘I am sure you’re glad you marry a CEO instead of a service station attendant.’
His wife replied without hesitation ‘No, I was thinking that if I had marry him instead of you, he would have been the CEO and you would be a service station attendant!’
The people we choose to grow or hangout with will determine who we become in life. Never underestimate the power of relationships.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
– Proverbs 13:20.
Of all things why am I writing about relationships? Truth is, I am rather bad in maintaining relationships. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t think I have many close friends that I can call upon. Associates, many. But real friends are hard to find and even harder to keep.
The relationships we foster in life, whether intentionally or unintentionally, matter more that we think. The people that we connect with will affect our destiny – positively or negatively. The people we associate with actually plays a major role in our lives.
According to a Harvard Medical School article, your relationships are more important to your long term physical health than the food you eat or the sleep you get. The article highlighted a study involving more than 309,000 people, that the lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%. Apparently this can add to the mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.
Harvard Health Publishing: The health benefits of strong relationships.
The challenge then is how to build and maintain the relationships around us. How do we ensure we get the best out of relationships? Not every relationship will be good. If we are not careful, bad relationships also can eat us away. Some relationships should be totally avoided. They hinder us, suck us dry, pull us back and destroy our lives. These are the toxic relationships in life.
Learn to identify people who adds value to your life. Arrange your life in such a way that you can spend more time with these people. Even a little time spent with these people can bring significant positive impact to your life.
I will end this post by sharing a TED video featuring Robert Waldinger titled – What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.
In his talk, Waldinger shares three important lessons learned from a 75-year-old study on adult development, based on unprecedented data on true happiness and satisfaction. His research found that the number one ingredient that keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life is meaningful relationships.
Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. There are three big lessons derived from the study.
1- Social relationships are really good for us
Loneliness kills. People who are socially more connected to families, friends, and to the community are happier and live longer than people who are less connected.
2 – The quality of your close relationship matters
It is not just the number of friends we have or whether or not we are in a committed relationship. Living in a good and warm relationship protects us. People who are most satisfied in their relationships turn out to be the healthiest.
3- Good relationships don’t just protect our body, they protect our brains
It turns out being in a securely attached relationships in your old age is protective. Our memory stays sharper and longer. And those people in relationships where they cannot count on the other, they experienced earlier memory decline.
We can desire for fame, wealth and achievements, thinking that these are what we need to get a good life. But studies have shown again and again that people who fared the best are those who have lean into relationships, to families, friends and the community.
The good life is built with good relationships. It is a lifelong endeavour and it never ends.
Get the good stuff from Waldinger’s talk here.