“One for all and all for one” – Author, Alexandre Dumas who made the phrase world-famous from his book, The Three Musketeers
We’re all familiar with the failure rate of New Year’s resolutions, but we keep making them hoping that this will be the year we sustain our goals. The reality is, however, that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned within just a few months. The most common reasons are: we mistakenly believe that comfort equates to well-being, so when the going gets tough (as with exercise) we often end up back on our couch; we want big changes to happen fast (like losing weight), yet our innate desire for instant gratification within a unhealthy food environment and sedentary culture, makes healthy lifestyle changes difficult; and possibly the biggest reason, we try to make big lifestyle changes on our own. Instead, we need to feel a sense of belonging and support from friends or the right tribe who could help us sustain our goals and improve our health and well-being.
Humans are highly social and tribal by nature. We are heavily influenced by the groups with which we associate, for better or for worse. For hundreds of thousands of years, the tribe represented safety, strength, community and survival. Your chances of survival diminished significantly if you were on your own. Any behavior that threatened the tribe’s well-being was not allowed.
Those ancient desires for belonging and social connection remain with us today. For instance, we are members of sports teams, recreation clubs, hobbyist groups, religious groups, civic/social organizations, support groups, and even group fitness classes! When the pandemic disrupted family, work and community gatherings, people experienced what Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy termed “collective loneliness”- lacking a sense of community-based or shared identity. When communal or social ties are broken, we lose that sense of belonging that is vital to managing stress and other behavioral issues. “Many people will turn to unhealthy behaviors to cope with their stress” such as alcohol, poor food choices, smoking, and mindless hours of screen time. Furthermore, if you surround yourself with people who indulge in unhealthy behaviors, you’re likely to engage in those behaviors yourself.
On the other hand, if your friends or social groups have healthy habits then you are more likely to as well. Studies show that your social networks may matter more than your genetic background when it comes to improving your health and well-being. The bottom line is that if you value your health, choose healthy friends! Also, if your goal is to lead a healthier lifestyle, you might want to stop trying to improve your eating and physical activity on your own. The power of the right community to improve your health is far greater than any crash diet or trudging alone on a treadmill. Connecting with a friend or a group of like-minded people can help with motivation and accountability. “When we feel we have support and are not alone, we are more resilient, often coping more effectively with difficult times in our lives”. If you’re searching for that right tribe, our Be Resilient classes and community can help guide you to become the person YOU want to be!