We all know that stress is a silent killer. It has been linked to heart attacks, depression, anxiety, obesity, digestion problems, even migraines and asthma.
But what if I told you there was a way you could live a long, happy, healthy, stress reduced life? Would you be interested? I bet you would. We all would!
I’m going to tell you a scientific secret that’s been around since the 1960’s.
It all starts in a little Pennsylvanian town named Roseto and involves an anomaly they discovered there: no one in the town under the age of 65 had ever died of, or shown signs of, heart disease! This was in the years before cholesterol lowering drugs so was completely and utterly unheard of!
The scientists wanted to know their secret.
Was it genetic? The majority of the town’s people’s families had immigrated from the same village in Italy. Turned out it wasn’t.
Was it diet? God no! The people of Roseto didn’t follow the typical ‘Mediterranean diet’. Olive oil was too expensive for most people in this blue collar town. They cooked mainly in lard, ate diets high in animal fat, and regularly indulged in sweet pastries and red wine. Lots of people were smokers too!
The researchers were stumped. Everything that they thought would be the link to this health anomaly just wasn’t there. They decided to go house to house and interview everyone over the age of 21. And this is where it starts to get even stranger. They discovered Roseto had no suicides, alcoholism or drug addiction. No one was on welfare, there was very little crime, and no one suffered from peptic ulcers (AKA stress induced ulcers). This defied all conventional wisdom.
But then it slowly began to dawn on them. As they observed the Rosetans they noticed some interesting things: Roseto was a town of only 2000 people but had 22 civic organizations, every Sunday the whole community came together at church, people regularly visited each other to share meals, people would often stop in the street and have long chats, many of the homes had three generations living together with the elder generation being highly respected both in the home and wider community. Plus, and this is something that is almost unheard of today, the wealthy were discouraged from flaunting their success and the community actively helped those in hard times keep their failures private.
The researches had finally cracked it. The Rosetan people’s secret to a long, healthy, happy life was… They were NOURISHED BY PEOPLE!
That’s right! People and community were the secret.
Now you may be a bit skeptical but I want you to think about it a little. We all feel satisfied through healthy, respectful connection with other human beings. We all strive to feel accepted and useful. We all want our life to have meaning and we get pleasure from feeling that we are contributing to our society and the wider world.
Roseto’s social structure unofficially advocated all of this. People had a sense of stability and purpose. They were spiritually nourished and surrounded by like-minded individuals. They looked after the people around them and were looked after in return. They had so many options and ways to get involved and find people that they could share laughter and joy with. They discouraged arrogance and jealousy and created a close-knit community that nourished the people within it.
True connection with like-minded individuals extended the life of the people in this town. They gave and received in mutual respect and cooperation and were surrounded by love and compassion.
If you want to live a long and happy, healthy life, then commit to finding a group of like minded people who, through mutual respect and understanding, you can help and who will help you in return.
There is no excuse in the age that we live in for not being able to find a community to be part of. The Internet has opened the door in this respect. But I would like to remind you that a physical interaction with other people is ALWAYS the better option. Kick your fear out of your head, refuse to let it influence your choices and jump on in. Joining a community of similar minded people will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Here are a few online and offline ideas to get you started:
· Join a Community Group – there are amazing civic organizations the world over. Your area is bound to have one that you could get involved in such as Soroptimist International, Lions Club, Young Farmers, the Women’s Institute and there are thousands more. Or perhaps there is a community garden you could volunteer with or community outreach group you could become part of (a really cool one I’ve heard of recently is a ride on lawnmower club in Detroit that gets together each weekend and mows the lawns of the cities playgrounds and parks so that children have a safe place to play. How cool is that!)
· Join a Spiritual group – if you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person you could consider joining a study group or becoming active in your local groups activities. The Internet is a great place to find people with similar spiritual/religious ideals if you don’t have access to like-minded people in your community. Join a forum or Face Book group and get active.
· Volunteer – thousands of charity groups the world over rely on volunteers so that they can keep doing the special work they do. What do you care about? Encouraging people to vote? Feeding the homeless? Caring for the elderly? Supporting single parents? Gender/racial/sexual equality? Animal rights? The list of possible causes to get behind is endless! Find one you care about and volunteer your time. You will find an amazing group of like-minded people here.
· Create – Join an art class, theatre group or choir. Find joy in creating something beautiful with, and for, other people. You could even use your creativity to cook something awesome for an elderly neighbor or family with young children. Find a way to use your creative spark (trust me, you have one!). There are many community groups that use their creativity as a way to come together and give back. One example I know of is a group of retired women who knit babies and children’s clothes that get sent to Romania every winter.
· Find an online forum or Face Book group that revolves around something you’re passionate about (quilting, Labradors, motorbike restoration – if you can conceive it, it exists), or perhaps around something you’re interested in learning about. Either way, find a group and get involved. If you’re nervous at first remember this, so was everyone else when they started!
There’s one final thing I want you to remember. It’s the most important aspect to take into account when finding your community of like-minded individuals, and that is that you must GIVE. Be selfless; give in all its forms (there is waaay more you can give then just money!). Everyone has something to give including you. If you’re stuck with what you could contribute, keep trying. You will find something. Work that fantastic, magical imagination of yours because in the long run, through giving, you will find your perfect community, and live a long and happy life.
What other things could we do to find a community? Or what has worked for you? Let me know below… and guess what, through commenting below you’re getting involved in the Fabulous Courage community! WooHoo!