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In this series of blogs we are exploring the 5 areas in which all humans should thrive, at age-appropriate levels.  The first three blogs in this series dealt with Physiological, Cognitive & Emotional thriving.  Two are left – Physical, and Social.  Altered function in any of these areas should be addressed. Let’s do Social Thriving, as it is a pertinent topic for me personally and something I have encountered more often recently.

Humans are social animals.  It’s a fact. We want to be in the company of friends or family and share our lives with them. We want to talk about our lives: what we had for dinner, the state of our roads, the weather, etc. The small things and The Big Things…

Humans have evolved to work in social situations in order to better communicate.  Communications helped us survive – we could share where the best berries were and know when there was danger far afield by hearing it from other people.  Co-operation is in our DNA. When we all work together towards a single goal we experience ‘collective intelligence’.  No man is an island, and the truth is that we feel better when amongst other like-minded people.  Wherever you go in the world, you’ll see groups of people gathered together to share ideas, catch up on trivia and engage in all forms of communication that are currently technologically possible.

It is common knowledge that the meteoric rise of social media, despite connecting us and providing a social platform, has resulted in lonelier and sadder people.  This is most prevalent among teenagers and young adults.  I am 55, so if you’re around my age you, too will remember school socials, meeting friends for coffee, going to a movie-and-eat-as-much-pizza-as-you-can; picnics, drive-ins, discos, late-night take-aways and Sundays listening to live music at a hotel… every one of these social events involving 3 or more people.  Social media has taken away this form of socialising.  ‘We’ sit at home, alone, ‘communicating’ (and also miscommunicating) with lots of people, without ever really connecting.

One of the most social things we do as humans is eat together.  Eating and drinking in community, with other people, even your immediate family, is a very socially healthy habit.  However, it has it’s dark side in the modern day – food shaming has become a terrible trend, with ‘friends’ not respecting our choice to forego sugar or to not partake in alcohol; we get labelled, humiliated and ultimately, if we don’t succumb to the manipulation, shunned by our peers. 

Modern social networks can be cliquey and exclusive, leaving the ostrasized person wondering what’s wrong with them.  ‘Fitting In’ is a huge thing at every age.  It’s tough being a human in 2019.  I have had some personal dramas these last few weeks and, not being a particularly sociable person by nature, found myself feeling isolated, lonely and adrift, not having anyone familiar with whom to share my woes.  Having decided it’s important to have a friend, it is my intention to set about making one… where does one start as an adult, making friends in the world we just described?  It’s not easy, but it is possible.  And it is necessary, especially as we get older and one has to be strategic about travel plans, finances, aged parents or partners etc….

The answer lies, as it does with all the topics we discuss via The Good Health Shop & One Small Step – prevention is better than cure!  Look after all your relationships.  To have a good friend, you must be a good friend.  Put in the effort required to make it work with at least 1 person, so you have a go-to guy.  If you have a hobby, connect with others with similar interests.  If you don’t, go learn something new – it’s good for your brain!  Be kind wherever you are and interact with other people, even cashiers, toll road workers & petrol pump attendants – it’s good practice being sociable and getting some good vibes in return, because kindness is always a two-way street.

We’re more fulfilled when we’re social, and if it seems tiring in the beginning, maybe that’s because it is, but like all new endeavours, it gets easier with practice….

Feedback, by sending us an email at michelle@thegoodhealthshop.co.za, about your positive experiences, if this blog got you thinking and you opened your heart a little and achieved some small social successes.