it’s not all that unusual for people to comment, “todd! why are you so happy?” or “gee you’re so positive!” or my personal favorite: “my gosh you don’t seem your age at all!”
ok let’s get some things outta the way for the cynics in my readership.
1. it’s true i haven’t always been this way.
b. sometimes (particularly at work or with 2 specific ppl) i am not this way.
and iii. people can change.
ok now that that is outta the way, i’ll continue.
earlier this week, a colleague sent me an article published this week from “health day” billed as “news for healthier living.” that article, “close ties with others might lengthen life, review finds” certainly intrigued me; so i read on: “strong support system seems to have significant health benefits, researchers say.” ahhhhh ya don’t say?!
relationships? the fount of youth?!
well, yes—to a point, it seems.
the author of the study believes that relationships DO influence our longevity and health and can even reduce stress and boost our immune systems. she does suggest that it could be that people with more relationships are simply healthier and have more energy to engage in social activities. but i’m inclined to agree with the theory.
ok yeah—who doesn’t know some old, lonely grouchy person?
but that doesn’t completely debunk this idea. actually: statistics are in the favor of those with lots of friends.
now one thing the study didn’t cover—insofar as i read—is the effect of negative relationships. speaking from experience, i think even one negative, unhealthy relationship (and who hasn’t had at least one of those?!) can negatively impact our health, mental well-being, and hypothetically—even our longevity.
now i’m not writing this just to justify my twitter addiction. (ok sorta, but it fits in!) but after reading the report, i believe this theory—supported through the research of some psych prof at BYU—may exactly explain why i feel youthful, why my attitude is more or less positive and upbeat, and why i have lots of friends.
you see, i purposefully exorcise all negative relationships from my life. i avoid places and groups of people who make me feel judged or ashamed for who i am. if i can at all help it, i avoid interacting with people who are negative, who complain and whine frequently, who make excuses, hide behind the cloak of some belief to avoid being authentic, or who project their flaws onto others to help themselves feel better. and i purposefully strive to hold my tongue on the road when someone cuts me off, breathe gently when someone expects something completely impossible from me, or when someone says something hateful. [the point here is not perfection—because I am not. it’s about being purposeful.]
instead, i purposefully surround myself around positive, joyful people. i foster a work environment where laughter and camaraderie flourish. i tweet people whose words radiate encouragement and positivity. once weekly, i engage in a “ritual” of sorts with my closest friends. we unwind, we laugh, we drink WiNE and snack, and when necessary, we vent and share and comfort and encourage. i have a generally strong relationship with my children and their mother because we all choose to see the good in each other and our love for one another is not limited by whether we are married or any societal bias. i have chosen to be in a relationship with a man who encourages me, wants to spend time with me, reminds me to stay grounded, and above all—makes me smile!
i believe these relationships—and they are many i am blessed to say—are the key to my happiness…the key, even, to my youthfulness.
(that and hundreds of dollars of moisturizer over the last couple decades.)
but seriously: i am not stressed by negative people because they’re not in my life and that absence of stress certainly helps me age slower. i don’t get bogged down by people who complain so it doesn’t weigh my spirit down. i don’t rant and cry and scream which lessens the likelihood of the dark circles under my eyes and wrinkles.
yes, i have problems and challenges just like everyone else. the secret—for me at least—is that i am surrounded by people who help encourage me when i am down. and by interacting with them, encouraging them when i can, and sharing my life, i am able to spread the positive energy which actually recharges me! go figure.
I know that our physical lives are finite. but I believe our quality of life—and yes, even its length—can be positively impacted by the beautiful expression of relationship.
so while it’s just a theory and the inevitability of aging is taking its toll (see my hair, mid-section, and abundance of ear hair for proof), this “fountain of youth” sure seems to be doing the trick for me!
(that, and a every-other-month application of “medium ash blonde #7.)