I have a long term mate called Ted (picture above on one of our monthly bushwalks) who I first met when we both worked in marketing together at Johnson and Johnson over 20 years ago. After we left J&J, we remained great friends. We often go on bush walks and discuss family, life, politics and work.
There was one moment in our relationship which I will never forget. As I have mentioned previously, at one point I went through a 5 year episode of depression that required hospitalization on several occasions. I was fortunate to have a very supportive family who visited me regularly, but Ted was the only friend that visited me in a psychiatric hospital.
He was there for me and listened without judgment. You never forget something like that.
We can just about talk about anything, and that is incredibly valuable. Priceless.
Do you have any people in your life that suck the energy out of you? I know I do.
These people leave you a bit flatter every time you interact with them.
It could be a work colleague, a family member, or just be a rude customer. In our frantic life it is essential to make time for those people (like Ted) that are good for us. When we spend more time with these special people we feel more robust and resilient. They make us feel better about our self. We need to invest in these relationships.
I call this small and important group of people our GREEN ZONE tribe.
Our partners or spouses can often be part of this group, but it is essential we have other people as well. Men need to make extra effort in nurturing these kinds of relationships as they are not as good at this as women.
A recent study by Movember revealed that 51% of men have 2 or less close friends, and alarmingly 13% have no close friends.
What does the evidence say about strong relationships and resilience?
Two psychiatrists, Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney have researched the topic of Resilience extensively. In their book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s greatest challenges they reveal ten proven strategies that are key to bouncing back from setbacks and adversity.
One of the most important factors is Social support – or mateship. Their research shows that the people you think of when you read these questions are your critical support, and qualify to be in your GREEN ZONE tribe:
- “Who could you count on to help you if you had just been fired or expelled from school?”
- “Who do you feel would help you if a family member very close to you died?”
- “Among my friends or relatives there is someone I go to when I need good advice.”
Talking to someone – and hearing yourself say that you’re having a tough time – is one of the most important steps to tackling low mood.
Why don’t you take one minute to write down one, two, or three names that fall into this category who are not your spouse or partner?
In another telling study by Dr Robin Dunbar from Oxford he found that the average person has 155 Facebook friends but only say there are 4 they could count on in a crisis.
The Harvard Grant study is the most remarkable wellbeing research ever conducted. It is a 75-year longitudinal study of 268 physically- and mentally healthy students from the classes of 1939–1944.
Every student was surveyed every second year and also participated in extensive medical examinations on a regular basis.
The have concluded that the best predictor of a good, happy and fulfilling life were strong and warm relationships. The Grant Study provides strong support for the growing body of research that has linked social ties with longevity, lower stress levels and improved overall well-being. It has even showed that those with strong relationships had a lower incidence of dementia
In another research study of 140,000 people conducted by the Gallup organization – those with the highest happiness to stress ratio spend 6 hour per day with people that they like. It’s important to note that the 6 hours includes time at work, home, on the phone, email, and social media.
My life changing one ritual is this
- I carry a list of 10 people from my GREEN ZONE TRIBE on my phone.
- Every Sunday I review that list, and if there is someone on that list I haven’t had quality time with recently I send a text to catch up for a walk, coffee, beer, or meal.
- This gives me a sense that my life is under control – even when I’m extremely busy.
So for a fulfilling and healthy life the message is clear- schedule quality time for people that are good for you.
Nurture your GREEN ZONE tribe.
DEVELOP YOUR RESILIENCE, MOOD, AND PERFORMANCE
This GREEN ZONE boost tip relates to ritual 3 – NURTURE SELF – from the 7 Rituals of Resilient Leaders.
Your organisation may be interested in experiencing the 7 Rituals of the Resilient Leader Workshop – Sign up for our free poster and course to learn how to create rituals that improve your resilience, mood, and performance.