As many of you know, I walk for an hour every morning before work. To make the time go by faster, I listen to podcasts. Frequently, I listen to true crime, because nothing gets the blood pumping like an unsolved murder, but I sample other shows as well. I have a list of favorites that I rotate through my playlist.
Lately I’ve been listening to the Good Life Project because they cover some fantastic topics and because the host, Jonathan Fields, does a great interview. Today’s podcast was awesome and I simply had to share it. Marta Zaraska has written a book called Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Life to 100.
Nothing Marta said was particularly earth-shattering or new; a lot of what she had to say were things we’ve known intuitively for years. What made the interview great is that for the first time, there’s science to back up our gut instincts.
The biggest lesson I learned from the podcast was the importance of community and communal belonging to living a long and healthy life. We spend a lot of time focusing on the micro aspect of aging, that is what we do with and put in our bodies. We focus on the best diets, the best exercises, the best hydration methods. But what’s equally important to longevity is the social aspect of our lives. Do we eat in a group around a table or do we sit silently with our partner watching television while eating?
A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the loss of the RWA conference and the community vibe that came with the event. I had a tangible longing for connection with my writing posse. Turns out, that tangible longing wasn’t simply me, missing my friends. Science says that we need to be social in order to live longer. More over we need robust and diverse social lives. (Part of me wonders if those who spend their time dwelling in social media echo chambers aren’t shortening their lives through lack of exposure, but I digress.)
When experts tout things like the Mediterranean diet, for example, it isn’t just the foods on people’s plates. It’s how the Mediterranean community approaches meal time. They treat dinner time like a social occasion. A time meant to be enjoyed leisurely, often with family and friends. So important is interaction to places like Italy and France, that it’s difficult to purchase coffee in a to-go cup. Is it any surprise then, that some of the world’s oldest people live in the Mediterranean? And that most of the people remain healthy until only a few months before their death?
Another key to longevity? Looking outward. Caring for people, volunteering, thinking of something other than our own narrow needs – these too add to our chances of living a long live.
Granted, we are living in a time when in-person socialization is difficult. We all have people we love who we haven’t seen for several months. What I think we need to do is tuck this information away for when the lockdown lifts. And perhaps appreciate the beauty of slowing down and interacting with one another in more meaningful ways.
I know, my rambling is getting a little boring. Trust me, when I was walking , I had a terrific blog drafted in my head. It disappeared before I could write it down. (Note to self: bring a note pad when walking.) Therefore, I’ll let Marta Zaraska do the talking for me. A link to the podcast is below.
I hope you all have a terrific weekend! I’ll be back next week as I attempt to be a better (and more interesting) blogger. In the meantime, thanks for reading!
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