Today I was invited to drive to my friends’ lakehouse – about a 50-minute drive from Ottawa. She is leaving for three weeks and needed to pick something up. I had a list of reasons to decline, including an important one, my exercise class at Carleton University. However, I haven’t been to the lake this winter. Furthermore, I have not spent much time with my friend in 2023 so I said YES.
Besides the beauty of the lake, and the wonderful company of my friend there is another reason to say yes when we are invited.
Taking time to care for our relationships.
We all lead busy lives and if we aren’t careful we can easily neglect our friendships. And guess what. Our friendships and relationships are the most important aspect of our good health and well-being, according to the Harvard Study, now 85 years old.
The current director, Dr Robert Waldinger, claims that back in the 80s most researchers didn’t believe that “warmer relationships make it less likely that you would develop coronary artery disease or arthritis.” Since then many other studies have come out to support the original findings.
Dr Waldinger is so convinced of this fundamental truth that he has written a new book, with Dr Marc Schulz: The Good Life, which focuses mainly on relationships and how to improve them. Naturally, there are many components to good health and even with doing everything right, if we live long enough we will grow old, and suffer from a variety of maladies. Eventually, we will all die.
On Our Death Beds
However, on our death beds, “it is our relationships that matter the most.”
In addition, as Waldinger says: “although the studies from around the world have their limits…they all show a similar pattern: the more socially connected you are, the more likely you are to live longer and live well.”
“Loneliness is now considered to be as bad for your health as smoking,” says Waldinger.” We know that stress is a part of life. What we think happens is that relationships help our bodies manage and recover from stress.”
He points out that “something as simple as meeting friends for coffee can sustain the relationships…good relationships wither away from neglect. There doesn’t have to be a problem of any kind, but if you don’t keep them up they fall out of your life. We find that the people who maintain vibrant social networks are the people who make an effort.” A walk or a text or a phone call…”these can be tiny actions, but if you do them repeatedly it keeps those networks vibrant.”
I suggest you read the article in The Guardian where these quotes came from. As always the Guardian does an excellent job presenting the work of good people. See the notes.
I have developed a kinship with readers of this blog, over the past, almost, five years. Every Wednesday I look forward to sitting down and putting a few thoughts on paper for you. As I do this, I think of you, dear reader, both the ones I know and the ones I have not met in person. I wonder how you are doing, and I wish you well. There is a connection and you count on me to show up each Wednesday and therefore I do. I find it wonderful and I am grateful to each of you.
Waldinger and Schulz’s book, The Good Life begins with a quote from Mark Twain that is new to me and that I like. So, I will close with the same.
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickering, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”
1:) The Guardian article where I took my quotes. Read here. I have been a fan of Waldinger’s works for many years, and I am 116 on the waitlist at my library for The Good Life. I’m not sure if you can read this or listen to the podcast but there is an excellent in depth interview with Waldinger in Tricycle magazine.
2:) The banner photo is taken from the balcony of our friend’s condo in Mt Tremblant, where my daughter took me last week. If you click on the photo you will see the charming scene we got to witness that evening after dinner. It was a glorious 24 hours and I was thoroughly spoiled. Thank you, Meghan, for being the best daughter in the world, and for the beautiful photo.
3:) The vertical photo I took this afternoon from my friend’s lake house. I took it through a window and was delighted with how it turned out. Two Wednesdays in a row I have had meaningful and beautiful surprises.
4:) Here is a 23 sec video I took of house sparrows giving a choral concert on the corner of First and Bank in Ottawa last Sunday morning. I lingered for quite some time simply enjoying them.