So, the SoapBoxSample team decided to start a new “thing.” We committed to spending 15 minutes each week, focusing on ways we can grow personally or professionally. We call it 15 Minutes of Growth (because coming up with clever names isn’t our strong suit, unless Jacqueline is involved). We all take turns presenting, and it’s led to some inspiring and eye-opening conversations.
A couple months ago I presented on a TedTalk I found about the secrets to living longer. Here’s the secret – social interaction is good for your health. Turns out, I’m already taking this speaker’s advice (*brushes off shoulders). My wife Sarah laughed when I showed her the video. She joked that I’ll most likely live to 100 given my network of friends and my active social life!
Surprisingly, it’s not the close relationships (people you go to for a loan or visit you in the hospital) that matter the most, it’s the social integration that matters. Meaning – do you stop to chat with people, or do you talk to your neighbors? (Hopefully you don’t have a horror-movie type of neighbor who could actually shorten your life in a violent manner.) Assuming that the people you would integrate with are generally not psychos, having more interaction with them has long-term benefits.
You may be thinking to yourself, I’m super integrated. I have like 700 Facebook friends. Before you go congratulating yourself, I have to break the news to you — social media interaction is not the same thing. If you want to achieve the health benefits of being social, you have to meet people face-to-face. Going online and liking 1,000 baby photos will not help you. (Except if they’re pictures of my new baby Charlotte. Her cuteness will definitely lengthen your life.) But if you’re just looking at regular baby photos, and vacation photos, and grammar police commenters, and all the other aspects of social media interactions, it won’t help (according to science).
If you want to live longer by being social, here are some things you should do:
- Eye contact
- If you’re a salesperson like myself, meet your clients in person instead of over the phone
- If you can’t meet someone in person, call them on the phone instead of emailing them. When someone can hear your voice they automatically think you are smarter. (Again, this is according to science. Don’t ask me how they know this stuff.)
- Get to know your co-workers by going out for Happy Hour (Be careful with this one, as you may find out waaaay more than you ever wanted to know.)
Basically, it’s the stuff that happens in-person, face-to-face, and in real life that matters. Social media is great, but it can’t take the place of looking into someone’s eyes and sharing a moment. So instead of forwarding a link to this blog to your friend or co-worker, call them up and tell them how great it is with your voice. And find out how their real lives are going.