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Optimal Health and the World Around Us

friends-walking

When it comes to health, it’s all too easy for the conversation to drift toward calorie counting and exercises. What should I eat? Should I do yoga or pilates? What about kettlebells? I heard that I should take this supplement but not this supplement, is that true?

While health is certainly internal—the result of a multitude of daily habits that add up to our physical state of well-being—health is also external. We are affected by the environment around us, and how we choose to interact with that environment can also affect our health. We’ve talked about this idea in the past. This is your health bubble, and that bubble is comprised of your physical environment as well as the people that surround you.

This week, I want to talk about how you affect your health bubble. As much as the people around you are a part of your health bubble, you are also a part of theirs.

And are you a positive influence?

We already know that feelings like stress and depression hinder our immune system, potentially increase inflammation, and strain a number of other important processes in your body. We’re learning more about how our emotional state affects our healthy almost every day. A new study has found that loneliness can result in similarly negative consequences. In short, when we feel disconnected from our community our bodies suffer.

This week, I challenged you to give one unprompted compliment a day. Like many Habits of Health, something as seemingly small as a kind word can actually go a long way. What takes you just a few seconds could help to make someone else feel better about themselves and perhaps make them feel more connected to the world around them.

There are benefits for you as well. Doing good through deeds big or small actually has benefits for you as well. One study found that people who actively reached out to help others feel less of the negative effects associated with stress. In a sense, doing good creates a sort of stress armor.

At first, this connection might seem a bit odd, but if you consider that man is a communal creature—we evolved to thrive through collaboration and sharing—it makes perfect sense that our bodies are hardwired to be at their best when we are plugged into the community around us and play an active role in helping that community thrive.

So don’t be afraid to pay some kindness forward. It’s good for you.

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