What kind of crowd are you running with?
Your crowd, your “wolfpack,” your tribe, your people, your posse. Call it what you want we are wired to be around people, and it’s vital to your health.
I remember when I was little and especially during those teenage years when my parents always wanted to know who I was hanging out with. I thought they were so nosy and judgy. Why did they want to know everything about my friends? Did they think I was so passive that I would just do whatever my friends were doing without using my judgment? Well they probably kind of did. And I probably kind of did.
Well, not totally. I was surrounded by a group of great friends and, though I made my share of mistakes, I didn't get in too much trouble. And overall I think I turned out okay. But my parents knew one very important thing... We are made to be surrounded by our peers, and our peers influence us.
Now years later as a physician, I am intrigued by the data related to how our social groups influence our health. And how the people that we surround ourselves with can improve our health.
I could honestly talk about this all day, but I'm going to keep this short and encourage you to think about four ways that being part of a positive group can influence your health. And if you don't have people in your life that are pushing you in a positive direction, I have your back.
We are pack animals, right? We are made to be in community. I've heard it said that loneliness is more threatening to your health than any other lifestyle-related risk factor. We're talking things like smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, and others.
Can you believe that? Think about it though. It makes sense, right? It’s extremely stressful to feel like we’re alone. Our body doesn’t like stress. It alters our everything from our metabolism, our circulation to our happiness hormones.
Have you ever kicked it up a notch when you were out walking when you saw a jogger coming? Are you more likely to show up at the gym when you know your neighbor is going to that exercise class also? Have you ever taken your medication extra regularly the week before your doctor's appointment because you wanted your numbers to look their best?
In fact, the American Society of Training and Development did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% greater chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability deadline with a person you’ve committed to, this increases your chance of success by up to 95%!
Does it really boil down to “monkey see monkey do”? Have you heard of mirror neurons? It's such a cool concept. Mirror neurons are neurons that fire when you do a certain action and also fire when you observe someone else doing that same action.
Mirror neurons are extremely beneficial because they allow you to learn from your environment, other peoples experiences, and to demonstrate empathy. So, the thoughts of other people can actually become your thoughts (whoa!). When you experience someone feeling an emotion such as happiness, sadness, fear, anger or joy, your brain “tries out” those emotions to imagine what that person is feeling. It does this be attempting to fire the same synapses as those being fired in that person's brain. So that’s another reason you should consider closely who you spend most of your time with!
4. Wise Counsel
Well if they say two heads are better than one then surely if you're in a big group the more heads, the better, right? I do realize that there is such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, but think about the collective wisdom and inspiration that’s present in a group of positive people.
When you surround yourself with positive people who are mindful of being on a path of personal development, you gain so much. Just think of the benefits of having access to people who have learned from life struggles, and how their wisdom could apply to what you're going through. And just imagine the inspiration that can be gained from the successes of others.
Part of my inspiration for forming my new medical practice was not just to be there for people at a 15-minute office visit, but rather to create a health-minded community that supports people in every area of their life. One way that we are doing this virtually is via our free Facebook group that is relaunching July 1, 2018.
During July, this will be open to current members of our Signature Primary Care and Wellness practice and people who are part of our social media and blog community (If you're reading this upon release, that's you!). And, because I know that my people have a lot of other awesome people in their life that need to be part of a community like this, I want you to invite your friends and family to join in July as well. After July 2018, you will need to be a paid member to join the group.
This is an ultra-positive place for people to connect related to all aspects of their health and I want you and your best friends and family to be part of the tribe. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, post challenges to get group feedback, connect with accountability partners, and share your success with others. I will be present there often sharing my own journey and offering tips and info that I don't share broadly on social media.
So if you are up for bringing some positivity to a group and getting the connection, accountability, positivity and wise counsel that a group can offer, click here to join me.
And if you are not a “Facebook person,” don’t forget, you can join Facebook and keep it private just for the purpose of connecting with this group.
See you in there!
PS--Friends don’t let friends go it alone. Don’t forget to forward this to the friends and family (the cool ones of course. lol)!
Dr. Paige Gutheil is a board-certified osteopathic family medicine physician and advocate for a Whole Health approach to your wellness. She is on a mission to help people thrive by looking at all the influences on health...body, mind, and spirit. Dr. Paige is the founder of an innovative team-based direct primary care practice, Signature Primary Care and Wellness in Hilliard, Ohio. She and her colleagues provide comprehensive primary care, counseling, coaching, nutrition education and yoga to help people all over central Ohio and beyond make fun, achievable changes towards their healthiest and happiest life possible!