Take Three Steps to Living Longer and Happier

I’m a Mark Twain fan. This picture was taken of me with his statue before I was a published author. Now that Positively Altered is in online bookshelves everywhere, I have an even greater respect for his sense of wisdom and humor about everyday life.

If Twain had earned royalties for every time he was quoted, he’d be a bazillionaire by today’s standards. But for him, I’d guess it was never about the money. It was more likely about communing with his readers and sharing his inner thoughts, which always seem to be universally true. What a gift.

When I stumbled on this picture taken at the ACA Women’s Council Symposium on Women’s Health at Logan University in Chesterfield, Missouri, I was reminded that inspiring influencers can come in all shapes and sizes. They can even be cast in iron.

When I speak with audiences about taking care of their bodies and minds, one of the first things we tackle is the importance of building your team of people who inspire you and support you.

Some thought leaders refer to this group of faithful colleagues or mentors as their “kitchen cabinet,” nodding to the president’s own cabinet of advisers. Others call this circle their personal board of directors. Many of you out there have your own personal names for your go-to group of friends or coworkers. Call it what you like. The important thing is to have one.

The most comprehensive longitudinal study in history on adult development concludes that the happiest and healthiest people are those who have warm connections with others. Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger led this Harvard study and explains that there is a crucial link between social bonds and quality of life.

Consider three steps to living longer and happier:

What personalities do you want in your life? When it comes to the people in your inner circle, “Turn toward the voices that make you feel more open and inclusive,” says Waldinger. That openness will lead to your personal growth and fulfillment. While this may seem like simple advice, it’s absolutely critical. You don’t want to consult with a friend or colleague who shuts you down or makes you feel “less than.”

Where in your life do you want support? If you follow my media coverage, you know that I’ve talked about the importance of creating your team of people who support your health. I recently read about someone’s personal board of directors that is geared toward their personal business success. They have different subject matter experts (SMEs) based on their focus areas, such as technology and finance.

Who can you intentionally follow? A great way to familiarize yourself with the types of people you want to invite into your inner circle is to follow SMEs online. Choose five to seven authors, thought leaders, or analysts to follow on social media. Still stumped? Start with a list that’s recommended by a knowledgeable source, such as Success magazine’s latest list of personal and professional influencers to follow.

There’s no rule that prevents you from having more than one go-to group to serve different purposes (e.g., personal health, career, hobbies). For instance, I have a team of people who help me with my book and speaking career, and I also have a network of peers in the medical field with whom I consult about my practice and patients. Equally important, I have my must-see group of women who support me and confide in me. What might be the groups you would create in your world?

Remember that they serve two critical purposes: 1) They provide expertise or guidance in areas where you need help or advice, and 2) they provide a nurturing social connection and camaraderie for your personal health and longevity.

In light of my photo, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mark Twain: “The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.”

Be choosy when it comes to the people you surround yourself with in life. The best way to find those friends worthy of your time and energy is to begin by being the kind of friend and listener you hope for.

Be positively altered,

Dr. Cindy

P.S. Join me for an episode of The Behavioral Corner with Steve Martorano where we talk about embracing adversity and how to call the shots and get through it on your own terms. Like what you hear? Book me for your next event.

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