Most Sunday mornings at 7.30am, I meet with Alastair and Bernie at South Curl Curl beach in Sydney. We go for a jog to Manly, followed by a swim, and then have a leisurely breakfast. It is a time of camaraderie when we get some exercise, and discuss the highs and lows of the previous week. We talk about work, family, and life in general. We have also used these mornings to plan trips away hiking in places like New Guinea, New Zealand, Tasmania etc.
In our frantic life it is essential to make time for people that are good for us. When we spend time with them we feel better about ourselves. We need to consciously invest time in relationships like this.
I call this group of people our GREEN ZONE tribe. The GREEN ZONE refers to a positive mood.
Our partners or spouses can be part of this group, but it is essential we have other people we are close to as well. Men need to make extra effort in nurturing these kinds of relationships.
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?”
- “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.”
In another telling study by Dr Robin Dunbar from Oxford he found whilst the average person has 155 Facebook friends, they only have 4 they can count on in a crisis. He discovered that those 4 people were those you met in person.
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 and happy life were warm and strong 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.
So for a fulfilling and healthy life the message is clear.
Have quality time with your GREEN ZONE tribe.