Originally published at agoraworld.one.
‘Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains’ — Robert Waldinger.
Looking at today’s headlines, it would be easy to think that diet and exercise are the sole predictors of health and longevity. ‘Eat kale and run your way to healthy old age.’ But a Harvard study spanning eight decades has identified another key ingredient for a long and healthy life: social relationships. The study found that our social relationships, or the relative lack thereof, have a powerful influence on our health, rivalling the effect of well-established health risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, diet and physical activity. Good relationships are so powerful that they physically protect our bodies, even against aging and pain. Several of the studies showed that people’s levels of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were. They also found that strong social support and ties help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of longevity than social class, IQ, or even genes. What’s more, it wasn’t money or status that determined the subjects’ happiness: the commercial view of a good life — wealth, career success etc. — ultimately does not bring as much health and happiness as maintaining connections with other human beings does.
In the words of psychiatrist and director of the study, Robert Waldinger, ‘taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.’ Meaningful relationships are just as necessary a prescription for better emotional, mental and physical health as diet and exercise. So — invest in relationships with your team members. Take that longer lunch break with your co-worker — it’s good for your health!
And, of course, AGORA is all about community. Being a Founder can sometimes feel lonely (not good for your health — loners died earlier, according to the study), which is why AGORA is all about giving Founders the opportunity to connect, providing a community of entrepreneurial minds, united by shared values. For AGORA, connection is about driving success, but it’s also about having fun, adventure, experience and friendship — about embracing community. Which we now know can literally help you to live long and prosper!
So move over kale — it looks like social relationships are the new superfood.