If our financial advisor were to ask us to list our most important assets, more than likely our mind would gravitate towards our house, car, tv, etc, but would we consider our body, our health?

Today, when we hear the word asset we typically think of the things we own, not the things we truly need or value.

Fact is, our bodies are the most important asset in our care and yet for most people it is a real struggle to take basic care of it.

Why do you think that is?

If a long and happy life is our priority then it would seemingly go without saying that having a healthy body would make that easier, right?

Despite this rather obvious truth, obesity and malnutrition as well as poor physical fitness are still near epidemic levels across the globe.

Given that we only have one body for the duration of our lives, one would think taking care of it would be a high priority or at least a higher priority then our car, house, etc. However, the data tells a different story.

Now, it is fair to say that for many people they may not know their diet is harming their body and surely the same could be said for their levels of physical activity, but could we in the first world honestly claim that we hadn’t heard we should avoid sugar or spend time in a gym?

For most of us, we know what we are supposed to do, we just choose or feel we can’t do it.

Being disciplined in our diet or opting for healthier options can be a challenge for innumerable reasons (costs, lack of time, etc), but do we take the time to seriously consider the consequences of neglecting our bodies? If we don’t, it seems we probably should, like now!

Maybe we have come to appreciate the taste of cheap, fast food more than the healthier alternative. Maybe consuming sugar just makes us feel good and we just need that little lift every night. Maybe we feel exhausted when we get home from work and there just isn’t energy to work out.

Whatever our reasons for not opting for a healthier lifestyle, our opting-out will more than likely come back to haunt us later.

So, time to start considering the future health and happiness of our future-self by making changes in how we treat our bodies today to ensure we will benefit tomorrow.

Here are a few of the most important ways you can respect your body and therefore help ensure a healthier and happier future.

13 Habits Linked to a Long Life (Backed by Science)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-habits-linked-to-a-long-life

Walk down any city street, open a website, scroll through your social feeds, turn on the radio/tv and what are you inevitably bombarded with? Promises. Empty promises. Advertisements selling you aspirations that will make you feel good and more whole.

We all know ads aren’t exactly honest and we may do our utmost to avoid them, but the fact is, they work and whether we like it or not, they shape our desires.

Given most of us aren’t about to toss out our TVs or phones, ads and false promises are a reality we’re going to have to live with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take some steps to protect ourselves from being manipulated by them.

Posing yourself a question is typically a good place to start. 

How much do the things I own actually make me feel happy and fulfilled?

If that one doesn’t hit home, try this one:

How much do the things I own prevent me from becoming the person I aspire to be?

These two questions are meant to be meditated on, so don’t expect answers to come flooding to you, but if you take the time to really reflect on them they may help you find some life changing perspective.

In the meantime, here are some tips/insights from some people who “have it all” from the world’s perspective.

#1 – Relationships

Famous and successful billionaire investor, Warren Buffet said, “I measure success by how many people love me”. Huh? One of the most successful investors of all time doesn’t measure success by how much he wins, but by how much he is loved?

I feel it is always a useful exercise to imagine myself in my final days looking back at my life: what is it I will value the most? If it is your relationships, ask yourself how much you’re prioritizing them in your life right now. 

#2 – Do what you love

Famous skateboarder and entrepreneur, Tony Hawk said, “You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.”

Interesting perspective to be sure. It certainly defies the popular message peddled in the media today that rolling like Kim Kardashian is the way to happiness.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, an epic Abbot from the 11th century once said “what we love we shall grow to resemble.”

We may not always have a choice where we work, but we certainly have a choice how we spend the rest of our time.

Find something you love to do that fills you with peace and purpose and dedicate yourself to becoming better at it. It may end up not only enriching your life, but others as well.

#3 – Be yourself

Bruce Lee once said, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Wow. That is some cutting and super-relevant advice for us today. I figure one of the biggest problems for most of us is we may not even know who we truly are. We have been conditioned by the media that who we are is not enough, or insignificant, and have been seemingly built to imitate those who the world considers to be ‘successful’.

St. Thomas Aquinas once shared what he felt was a recipe for the salvation of a person:

to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.

– Two Precepts of Charity, 1273

I suppose that is a good place to start. If you can answer these three questions and feel at peace with your answers, you’re far better off than most of us.

The answers to these questions will give us the confidence and purpose to both ‘express ourselves’ and have ‘faith’ in ourselves.

Not time like today to get started on this!

#4 – Take the focus off yourself sometimes

Oprah Winfrey once said, “When people say they are looking for happiness, I ask, what are you giving to the world?”

Sometimes, we get caught up in our own lives and forget that there is a massive world around us in need of kindness, love and people who care enough to make a difference. 

You’d be surprised how refreshing helping others can be.

It has been scientifically proven that giving to others can have mental and physical health benefits such as increased self-esteem, less depression, lowered levels of stress and lower your blood pressure.

So, if you can’t put your finger on how you’re making the world a better place, take some time and figure out why.

Changing the world isn’t as hard as many people think.

Every day we are presented with dozens of small, sometimes big, ways we can contribute to making the world a better place. Look for those opportunities and then do the right thing, for yourself, and for the rest of us.

  • Gratitude is scientifically proven to improve your psychological and physical health and well-being.
  • Gratitude also increases your chances of developing great relationships.
  • Learning how to practice gratitude is a skill anyone can learn.

Are you a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” type of person?

We’ve all had moments when we’ve felt sorry for ourselves, and moments when we’re overwhelmingly grateful, but did you ever ask yourself which is better for you and why? 

Gratitude is good for you

Modern psychology tells us that those who practice gratitude over self-pity are mentally stronger and healthier for it – gratitude has some awesome psychological benefits including lowering stress, increasing the likelihood of experiencing joy, and decreasing episodes of depression and anxiety.

Gratitude also increases your chances of having life-giving relationships. Gratitude helps us to appreciate those around us who enrich our lives and also encourages us to express gratitude to them, which reinforces a cycle of positive affirmation. Practising gratitude helps us avoid taking our friends and loved ones for granted and this helps strengthen our relationships by keeping our hearts open to giving generously

Moreover, there’s also some physical benefits from showing gratitude daily. Some notable ones include: improving the quality of your sleep, heart health and even bolstering your immune system.

Gratitude is a worthy challenge

Gratitude isn’t something that just shows up one day, it is a discipline, something we have to practice to get right. So, if gratitude is something you’re struggling with, understand that you’re not weird or dark.

Being able to see and take stock of the reasons we have to be grateful each day is something we have to practice and in order to practice it one needs to make time and space in our life for the exercise.

Making time to reflect and find the reasons to be grateful each day will require some sacrifice of your time, but the investment in this life-skill will pay you dividends in almost every area of your life.

So, find the time and if you have to, schedule a time and place to practice it.

Training yourself to be  grateful

Here are a few time-tested ways to develop your ability to be grateful.

Bad habits that eat-up gratitude

Telling yourself “if only…” is a bad-habit that prevents you from practising gratitude. 

If only I had more time; if only I had better friends; if only I made more money; if only my teacher knew how hard I tried on that test. It is so easy to repeat this litany to ourselves, but this victim mentality will prevent you from finding the reasons to be grateful in any given situation.

So, if you hear this litany in your head or one similar like “why me”, tell them to take a hike!

Focus on your blessings

This one may seem pretty obvious, but how often do you take time to   count your blessings? It may seem like a silly exercise, but as the reasons to be grateful pile up it is amazing how your whole disposition can change. You start seeing all these reasons to be grateful around you instead of the reasons to feel sorry for yourself.

Give this a try, it only takes a few minutes and you’ll surely come to see it is a worthy exercise.

Practice courteousness and generosity

Finally, always remember to be generous with your please and thank yous and try your best to look the person in the eye when offering them. It is a time-tested way to practice gratitude and also a meaningful way to share it.

Oh and of course, make an effort to be generous. Generosity is a way of acknowledging the blessings in our life and a way of spreading blessings to others. Gratitude is intimately linked with generosity.

If generosity does not come easily to you, take some time and reflect if you’re practising gratitude. Odds are, at some point, you stopped counting your blessings.

Thanks for reading!

Self-mastery, yup, it’s definitely something Yoda or your Sensei would lecture you about, but believe it or not, it has been a discipline since time immemorial.

We won’t bore you with a lengthy explanation as to why. It is pretty obvious, right? 

The ability to control our actions and focus our energies where we want as opposed to where we are lead has obvious benefits. Whether this leading is done by others or our own impulses, emotions, etc, nobody wants power over their actions to be determined by anyone other than themselves.

Self-mastery is simply the ability to control our own desires or impulses. It is easy to define, but takes a lifetime of dedication and self-disciple to master.

So, where to get started? Here are 10 tips to start you on your journey to self-mastery.

1.Create a budget and stick to it

If you’ve ever tried to spend money strictly on budget, you’ll know that sticking to it takes plenty of self-discipline. When you’re tempted to make that one little purchase that will throw you off your budget, start your self-mastery journey by sticking to your budget.

2. Fast

Fasting is a great way to practice self-control and take you further down the road to self-mastery. By choosing not to surrender to your food cravings, your levels of hunger could go down after some time. This way, you’ll be the master of your hunger and not the other way around.

3. Pick a talent and schedule a practice time every day

By choosing to practice and work on your talent daily, regardless of what may come up to demotivate you, you are choosing commitment and diligence over giving in to your emotions or physical demands.

 Through making these decisions daily, you’re training yourself to be resilient and this can roll over into other parts of your life.

4. Practice meditation

Have you ever felt like your mind is too busy? If your mind seems like a loud place with chaotic streams of thought coming from all directions, meditation can help you with that. To actively focus on clearing your thoughts and calm your mind, it takes discipline and inner mastery.

5. Exercise regularly

It’s common knowledge that exercise does not only condition the body, but also the mind. 

The temptation to turn on the TV and veg or pick-up your phone and scroll through your feeds can be powerful, but you know that exercise is a critical component of health and well-being, so, discipline yourself to resist your sloth impulses and take a key step towards self-mastery. 

6. Sacrifice

The only time giving something up will ever help you on your journey towards self-mastery is sacrificing something you enjoy in order to exercise your self-mastery muscle.

Think of it as practising mind over matter. Life is a long road of choices. Saying yes to something and no to something else. Sometimes, we may need to say ‘no’ to something we want because we need to say ‘yes’ to something we need.

This is never an easy choice, but practice makes it easier. Give it a shot on something small in your life, like forgoing your next cup of coffee.

Being able to say ‘no’ when we need to is an important way of saying ‘yes’ to self-mastery.

7. Pray daily

If you’ve ever tried to pray but found yourself drifting from one thought to another aimlessly or are constantly struggling to find time for it, you’re certainly not alone.

Prayer requires a clear mind and focus, much like meditation. If you wish to upgrade your prayer life then practice discipline in it,, it’s another inner battle won and another step towards self-mastery.

8. Challenge yourself

Find a way to throw yourself in the deep end by taking on an extraordinary challenge – do this by choosing an activity that you know you’ll find difficult and then get it done.

Your choice of activity should push you to your limits by either requiring a great deal of inner strength or outer strength (because it’s often a mind over matter challenge when you challenge yourself physically).

Challenging ourselves is a time-tested way of forging ourselves into self-mastery ninjas.

9.Give your belly the cold shoulder

Another great way to achieve self-mastery is to stop yourself from eating before you feel full. This is not only a way to exercise your self-mastery skills, but it is also good for your health!

10. Do it little by little

There’s a reason why we call it a journey to self-mastery, it isn’t a journey you make overnight.

So, don’t be hard on yourself if you misstep from time to time. The important thing here is  persistence.

We recommend taking small steps before setting high bars. 

For example, if you haven’t exercised for the past five year, we don’t recommend doing a triathlon. Obviously!

By starting small, you’ll begin to slowly but surely make headway on your journey and see yourself strengthen and grow, one small victory at a time. Each victory will build your confidence and make every day of your journey a little easier.

Anger, it seems to be one of the few emotions that comes as naturally as breathing. Nobody escapes its clutches for long and yet despite its negative connotations, it is an important release valve that can help ensure our mental health and wellness. 

In this blog, we’ll give you the download on anger and how to manage it so it becomes an asset, not a liability.

According to psychologists, anger is a healthy emotion; it’s an automatic response to pain or discomfort such as feeling attacked, deceived, frustrated, or unfairly treated. Like all emotions, it serves an important purpose.

For one, it provides an opportunity to upskill your emotional intelligence and do some introspection.

How’s that you say? Anger is like an alarm. It alerts us to perceived vulnerabilities in ourselves and triggers a fight response. The trick is to ensure you listen to the alarm and then choose to acknowledge it. How you choose to acknowledge it is a definitive sign of your emotional intelligence.

The funny thing with anger is often the object of our anger is not the primary reason for our anger.

Say your mom is demanding you clean your filthy room. Your first reaction may be anger. Anger that someone else is demanding how you spend your time or shape your priorities. You may feel the need to rebel or lash out, but when you weigh the consequences for doing so or the mere futility, you resign and do as you’re told. Now, when the job is done and you’re able to find things in your room again, it’s funny how that anger disappears and a sense of accomplishment often lofts over you.

In this case, anger may alert us to a possible infringement on our freedom, but in exercising a little emotional intelligence we realize that our mom loves us and has no real interest in limiting our freedom, but is trying to constructively help us develop into a mature individual. 

It is always difficult to see this in the moment of our anger, but if we exercise discipline and tap into that rational part of our brain we are able to dismiss the reason for our anger and then let it go.

When you take constructive steps to addressing the root of your anger in a disciplined and rational way, you are managing it in a healthy and intelligent way. However, when our anger trumps our discipline and overcomes our reason it can be a destructive thing. 

Just like fire, if it is used prudently it can be life giving, but when used foolishly it can reign destruction on you and those around you.

Handling your anger in a healthy, constructive way is a skill and like any skill it requires dedication and patience to master. 

Common unhealthy responses to anger includes suppression, violence, aggression and passive-aggression.

When you deal with anger poorly, you’ll increase your chances of developing mental health issues, cardiac issues and heighten your likelihood of developing drug addictions or alcohol abuse to help you cope. No kidding. It is a powerful emotion that ruins many lives.

Not sure how to deal with anger in a healthy way? We’ve got some top tips to help you out:

Don’t react, think

Think and try to understand your anger before you react. Anger can be lifesaving when you’re being mortally threatened, but let’s face it, we don’t live in the jungle or savanna any more. We live in a civilization. Letting anger master you instead of you mastering it is a recipe for disaster in today’s world. We know you know exactly what we mean. So, do yourself a favor when anger washes over you, count to 10 and ask yourself why you’re angry and if what you want to say or do we’ll make things better or worse.

Do some exercise

Anger can be a difficult thing to shake-off. If your anger is something you just can’t find a way to let go of, try channeling it into exercise. Remember, many of these emotions served very practical purposes throughout our evolutionary history and so sometimes it may be nature’s way  of getting us out of our chair and into the gym. 

Respond when you’re calm

You’re in control. So, despite how you may feel or the expectations others may have on you, it is you and you alone who determine how you respond to your anger. A cool head tends to prevail in most circumstances. Do yourself a favor and choose to respond when you’re able to bring to bare all your faculties. It is a solid strategy to get ahead in life.

Don’t hold a grudge

Almost every civilization esteems the power and practical benefit of forgiving and discourages holding grudges. There is a simple reason for this, forgiveness, whether it be forgiving another or yourself, is critical to your mental health and a peaceful society.

Holding on to your anger and refusing to take steps to let it go is like driving a car with no oil in it. You may make it a few miles, but it is only a matter of time before something gives in that engine of yours and your car quickly changes from an asset to a liability.

A grudge doesn’t help anyone. So, dig deep and remember that experiencing anger is natural, holding on to anger is a choice.

Are you kind-hearted and generous or do you struggle with giving? 

If you’re a giver, you’re probably familiar with the joys of giving. If you’re not, you’re missing out!

It’s a bit of a paradox, but research shows that giving has a net positive effect on the giver as well as the beneficiary. 

For some of us, this may come as no surprise as we may easily recall how it made us feel to give a gift and to see the delight of the one receiving it.

However, what may surprise you to learn is that giving can improve your mental and physical health as research reveals it can lower blood pressure, increase your self-esteem, reduce depression, lower stress levels and lead to living a longer, happier life.

Although the aim of giving should not be selfish, it’s a great bonus to know that your generosity is a gift to yourself.

If you’re struggling to give, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a selfish person, you could have valid reasons for not giving freely or cheerfully.

For example, some people struggle to give because they’re worried that they may not have enough for themselves or that what they have to give isn’t good enough. Some worry that their giving won’t make a difference or be appreciated, and others worry that receivers may take advantage of their kindness.

These concerns aren’t characteristics of selfish people, but rather insecure people and it is important to acknowledge the difference.

If you’re hesitant to be generous to someone, consider that the act will only do you good and if your generosity is not acknowledged by another that is a poor reflection on them, not you. 

Reasons to Give

Whether you’re struggling to give or you’re the biggest giver you know, we have three encouraging facts around giving to either motivate you to start or continue being a cheerful giver:

You’ll experience greater happiness and satisfaction

Research shows that giving can activate parts of your brain associated with pleasure, connection with people and trust.

There’s also evidence that your brain secretes feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

So, the next time you’re excited or happy about sharing or giving a gift, recognize that feeling as one of the wonderful gifts you get in return, it’s called “helpers high”.

You’ll be healthier

Giving has also been scientifically proven to have mental and physical health benefits such as increased self-esteem, less depression, lowered levels of stress and lower your blood pressure.

You could touch the lives of others

Besides benefiting you, it’s also worthwhile to remember how your kindness can impact the world around you.

There are hundreds of charities to choose from for a reason – the world and the people in it are in need of things they can’t have without the help of generous people.

At Halcyon, we recognize the need to create a virtuous society and we’ve invested in various campaigns to do so.

From campaigning to protect our children from exposure to harmful pornographic content, to making sure the rights of crime victims are upheld, we would not have been able to do it without kind people who decided to give by donating to our cause.

Thanks for giving!

It is probably fair to say that no one in history has gone through life without struggling with this a bit (well, maybe Jesus, aside from him).   That said, there has to be a reason most major religions and philosophies through the centuries have esteemed the practice of forgiving others.

As it turns out, there is. In fact, there are a number of compelling reasons. First among them: it is good for you!

How, you say? It turns out that they act of forgiving is actually better for you then it is for the other in most cases. Let us delve into why.

Ever heard of the “Serenity Prayer”? Here’s how it goes:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

The key dimension of forgiveness lies in the first line of this prayer. The ability to “accept the things I cannot change”. Often when we are hurt by someone we experience a range of feelings: anger, regret, confusion, etc.

These feelings are something we cannot control when they’re caused by someone other than us. So, our feelings are often something we cannot necessarily change.

The second line of this prayer: “courage to change the things I can”, hits on another important dimension of forgiveness and this is the ability to determine how we respond when we are hurt by others.

We have little control over how people treat us and therefore little control over how they make us feel. 

What we can control is how we choose to respond when others hurt us.

So, the act of forgiving is something we can do to free ourselves from the hurt or guilt caused by either someone else or even our own actions. This is something we can control and is outside the power of others.

Need a compelling reason to give forgiveness a try?

Forgiveness has the power to:

·         free you from the control the perpetrator may have over you,

·         loosen the grip of the pain or trauma their actions caused you,

·         Permit  a sense of understanding or empathy that may open the door to reconciliation.

There are also health benefits to forgiveness:

Research shows that it can improve your mental health – decrease anxiety, lower the risk of depression and even aid in treating certain psychiatric disorders.

Forgiveness is also linked to physical health improvements such as lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and improved heart health.

So, how do you forgive someone and heal yourself in the process?

Let’s start by clarifying what forgiveness is not: it isn’t saying that someone is off the hook for causing you harm and doesn’t always need reconciliation. 

It also doesn’t mean you’re in denial of what has happened or how it made you feel.

Forgiveness does mean that you get to walk away with inner peace despite what happened to you and therefore it is a service to yourself and your own well-being. 

Forgiveness can be a long journey, but research is clear it’s an investment worth making in yourself.

Here’s a final tip to open the door for you to forgive.

Imagine what it’s like to be the person who hurt you and think about why they did it. The why is so important.

Even though their actions may not be justifiable, it often helps knowing that their actions came from a place of hurt or misdirected anger. 

The fact is, hurting others is rarely something we intend to do, but more often the result of a kind of desperation to be heard. We have all hurt others and we have all sought forgiveness from others, so try to be generous in forgiving, if not for the sake of the other than for yourself.

Not much explanation is needed when we say that 2020 has been a crazy year, we’re facing the Covid-19 pandemic, earthquakes in New Jersey and the wildfires raging across western US.

It’s no surprise that people have started a #SignsTheApocalypseHasArrived conversation on socials lately.

Research by Bio Med Central (BMC) shows that since the world went into lockdown, there have been increases of people experiencing several symptoms of mental trauma: emotional distress, depression, stress, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress, and anger to name a few. 

If you add the countless other disasters happening during 2020, we could easily be sitting in a minefield of stress triggers.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by 2020 yet? 

For those who say “YES!” it’s understandable we would be looking for coping mechanisms to help us blow off some steam or just generally decompress.

That said, we have to be on guard our coping mechanisms don’t mutate into bad habits or even worse, addictions.

If you’re struggling with addiction issues, this could be a difficult time to practice self-control. Research shows that stress is the number one cause of a relapse – ex addicts often turn to their addictions as a coping mechanism.

For many, pornography use has changed from an occasional distraction into a crippling need.

Stats show that pornography is a go-to coping mechanism for many. Since countries went into lockdown, there have been spikes in porn searches across the world: Pornhub’s global traffic reported a record 12% increase earlier this year.

If porn has become a menacing distraction you would like to kick, we have some resources to help.

Not convinced porn use is a problem? Need a little motivation? Check this out:

Get the facts

Need a little inspiration to get started? Check this out:

Brain Heart World

Need help to kick porn? We have the tool for you:

Join Fortify

If you find these resources helpful and want to help us wage war on the porn industry, considering supporting our work!

Donate here.

Do facts scare you? Apparently, they scare some of our schools.

The New York Times Magazine has decided that the American history curriculum in public schools doesn’t address slavery and racism enough; and instead of seeking to correct any errors or oversights, they have decided to rewrite portions of American history in a way that has many deeply concerned. 

The 1916 Project sees America’s entire history through the lens of slavery. 

The American Revolution? That was actually a war started by white men to prevent the British from freeing their slaves. 

Problem is, many  notable historians disagree with this interpretation and have written letters claiming the project lacks historical evidence. 

Gordon Stewart Wood, an American historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote,

“I don’t know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves […] No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776.”

The creator of the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, admits that her own narrative and anger are woven into the project’s pages. “It’s a little angry,” she admitted on The Daily Show earlier this year. 

Hannah-Jones’s strong emotional interest in the narrative seems to have confused fact with fiction, but she appears comfortable with this given her conviction that  history cannot be objective. 

In Hannah-Jones own words:

“I did respond to someone who was saying white scholars were afraid, and I think my point was that history is not objective. And that people who write history are not simply objective arbiters of facts, and that white scholars are no more objective than any other scholars, and that they can object to the framing and we can object to their framing as well.”

Hannah-Jones poses an interesting question about the importance of ‘framing’. 

Is it enough for us to acknowledge our biases then carry-on with ‘framing’ history as we choose, or do we have a responsibility to try and move beyond our biases, once acknowledged, and represent history in the truest sense possible?

An important question for not just historians, but for us as well. 

Do we want our teachers teaching history through the lense of our contemporary values/beliefs, or is it perhaps better to receive history as it was and to make our own judgements? Something to discuss over dinner tonight!

It turns out the president and many politicians are putting a stop to this track. Recently, President Donald Trump warned that schools set on implementing this new curriculum would lose federal funding. 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, who introduced legislation to defund schools using the new curriculum, called the project “a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.”

A powerful claim that should strike in us deep angst.

Science says that we’re designed to be social; we’re meant for companionship.

2020 had an interesting spin on how we stay connected, with most of us “social distancing”. Despite this, there’s been a huge emphasis on ensuring we stay connected while being physically apart. Why is their global angst about disconnecting?

It turns out the concern for us isn’t just rooted in sentiment, but in science as well. It turns out that people who go through life alone are more at risk of developing chronic stress. Moreover, those without social support structures are more likely to develop depression, heart disease, cancer, and have an impaired immune function.

Whoever first claimed we were social animals seems to have hit the nail on the head.

At the same time, being in toxic friendships or family units can be equally bad for your health. 

If going into lockdown was a sigh of relief because you’re usually surrounded by negative people, it’s time to seriously consider how you can make changes in your life to edit out the negative influences. 

Remember, science has your back on this. Your health and wellness literally depends on the environment you choose to be in .

Here’s three ways that healthy family units or friendships are good for you:

Support structures

Having healthy relationships affords us ‘an eye in the storm’, a place of security amidst the craziness of life. 

Whether we need emotional support, a sense of belonging, tangible support like financial assistance or even a place to live, family and friends can be a safe harbor when we need it most.

Reality checks

Sometimes, we don’t realize when something is bad for us, whether it’s an activity, a relationship or a habit. We have all been there. Fortunately, when we don’t see it, our friends and family often do. 

Family and friends share the hard truths with us that are never easy to hear, but are often the light we need to guide us through the storm.

Let’s face it, if we are going to hear hard truths, we want it to come from someone we know has our best interests at heart. So, when your friend or family member gives you a reality check, remember to be grateful they care enough to do so.

Accountability

Sometimes, we need an extra push when pursuing our goals or when we start procrastinating and making excuses. 

Our close friends and family who love us will often give us the kick in the butt we need to stay on track. We are rarely grateful in the moment for the kick, but once we cross the finish line we always remember who had our backs.

If you’ve been alone a lot this year, we encourage you to reconnect with friends and family or get networking to find wonderful people you can build a relationship with.