Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been digging into your (healthy) social life. We’ve talked about setting intentions for social eating and getting clear on your thoughts around social drinking. Today we tackle your squad. Your chosen family. Your peeps. Your community.
*Cue What About Your Friends by TLC*
Much of your mental and physical health is an inside job, but community certainly plays a significant role. This study analyzed data from over 300,000 people over the course of 7+ years, finding that that those with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival (yes, not dying) in comparison to those with poor social relationships. To offer some context, you’d see similar numbers comparing non-smokers to smokers.
The quality of your relationships and the values you do (or don’t) share with those around you have the ability to make healthy habit formation easier or more difficult.
This whole series was inspired by YOU and the health challenges you shared with me. As I dug deeper into why you feel like your social life is working against your health goals, I discovered what I believe to be the primary issue. The main source of tension revolves around the fact that, for most of us, our social lives revolve around food, booze, and little else.
Before we go further I want to get very clear: I love checking out the cool new restaurant that just opened with my girlfriends, or going on a date with my boyfriend to our favorite cozy bar, or visiting Barnaby’s with my family when I’m home in Houston. There is so much life and love in these moments, and I’d hate for someone to think that they have to give these up to honor their health. (Not to mention the fact that that health is both physical and mental, and sharing a meal with people you love can be a very good thing for your mental health!)
Clearly, I’m not here to tell you you shouldn’t get dinner and drinks with your best friend or Bumble date. But I am going to help you to start chipping away at the “little else” part today. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s possible that if you had other social outlets, you wouldn’t feel like you have to choose between your health goals OR your social life. This really is more of an “and” situation— I swear!
Being the change
You probably know that Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Well, I want you to be the change you wish to see in your social circle. Like attracts like, so chances are you and your friends have a lot in common. By that logic, if you’re out here telling an Instagram stranger (💁) that you feel like your social life and your health goals are at odds with each other, I BET AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS DOES TOO!
I know it’s hard to challenge the status quo. I know it takes more energy to seek out concerts or art exhibits than it does to book a res at whatever restaurant Eater tells you is on fire this weekend. I know it can feel awkward to broach the subject of a dry girls’ night in when you haven’t had a mixologist-free Friday since you turned 21.
But do you want to know something? I know that if you’re following me and reading this, you’re probably ready to live a life of congruence. You’re ready to step into the shoes of the woman you want to be. You’ve never felt more aware that the status quo is no longer serving you. And since doing the same thing and expecting different results it the definition of insanity, you’re ready to do something sane and change the freaking game!!!
So this is my challenge to you: SAY SOMETHING. Be the change. Start the conversation. Ask your friends if they’re tired of feeling like they spend their Sundays and Mondays recovering from their Fridays and Saturdays. Ask your family if they’re cool with you planning a mini golf adventure instead of your usual Sunday night dinner spread. Ask the guy you’re seeing if he’s down for a day date instead of “grabbing drinks.”
I have a strong feeling that you’ll probably feel less alone in your original dissatisfaction and gain more support than you anticipate.
“But Claire, what if I do that and it all goes to shit?! What if my friends still want to spend their Saturday nights at the bar? What if the Bumble dude thinks I’m a freak for suggesting anything other than dinner and drinks?”
As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Now’s the time to ask yourself: Is that even who I want to be?
Do my friends, family, and romantic partners share my values?
Do I have Expanders in my life— people who are an example of what’s possible?
What am I bringing to these relationships? What am I getting out of them?
Through this 3 week series, you might be learning that you and your current community are out of alignment. I know it’s a scary thought, but want to know what’s even more terrifying? Settling for a life of circumstance and comfort when you can choose more.
So how do you do that? First, you get clear on what you want. You go inward. You allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts. You ask yourself: What do I want for myself in terms of community? What value will I get out of that? Is that value in alignment with what I want out of life? If the answer to that is yes, you’re getting somewhere. If the answer is no, start over. Dig deeper.
Once you have a clear picture on what you want from your community, it’s time to think about where these people hang out. And I want you to get, like, suuuper specific. I know you want to live a healthy lifestyle and make friends with others who do too, but let’s go beyond “I guess I should check out a yoga class!” Your time is precious and making new friends is hard, so let’s not burn ourselves out in the process with missteps.
Say, for example, that after reading last week’s post on social drinking, you recognize that you’re ready to take a break from alcohol and see how that goes. If that’s the case, it makes less sense to go to Yoga & Mimosas and more sense to check out your local studio’s inversion workshop. Aside from the obvious fact that being sober curious and drinking sunrise mimosas go together about as well as Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson, workshops also tend to be more interactive and allow for more chatting than classes.
So you know what you want and where to go. The third (and final) step of the process is the hardest part:
Now you’ve got to put yourself out there.
You have to go to the workshop, introduce yourself to someone, get curious about their life, ask questions, and initiate a hang out!!! This is going to take the most delicious
cocktail cold-pressed blend of confidence and vulnerability, but I know you can do it!
Remember that you’re now someone who chooses more. You’re an Active Participant in your own life. You’re so NOT FREAKING ALONE. And the girl who’s holding on to your ankles as you do your first headstand might be the one to show you how true that all is. You just have to be brave enough to initiate!
WOW. This was a big one, y’all. I hope this post brought some clarity and guidance to the idea of creating a social life that enhances your health, and health that enhances your social life. I’ve given you a lot to think about today and thinking can be tough and even a little bit scary. If you’re walking away from this post feeling slightly confused or like you have more work to do, I got you.
Download this worksheet to start putting thoughts down on paper, and then turning ideas into action. Just think: This could be the one small act that ignites so much positive change in your life.