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Improve Your Odds of Survival by 50%

by Beth on August 10th, 2010

According to a recent study done by professors at BYU, “social connections – friends, family, neighbors or colleagues – improve our odds of survival by 50 percent.”  And actually the odds are probably even higher because both negative and positive relationships were included in the study.  The professors explain that relationships influence our health because our loved ones can encourage healthy behaviors like eating well, exercising, and going to the doctor.  They also mention that having social relationships can lower stress levels and can provide meaning and purpose to people’s lives.

I agree, but I think another big reason for the finding that relationships improve our odds of survival is that relationships increase our positivity and positivity is directly related to better health and, therefore, survival.  One of my favorite studies of positivity and longevity looked at the autobiographies written by Catholic nuns in their early 20s.  The autobiographies were analyzed to determine the frequency of positive emotions that the nuns expressed.  Years later, when the nuns who had written the autobiographies were between 75 and 95 years old, the researchers determined that 25 of the nuns from the group with low levels of positivity had died, while only 10 from the group with high positivity had died.  After analyzing the data further, they concluded that nuns who experienced the greatest amount of positive emotions lived an average of 10 years longer than those who experienced few positive emotions.

Makes you want to get right to work increasing positivity in your life, doesn’t it?  As the BYU study shows, nurturing your relationships can be a great way to do that.  But is it hard for you to find time in your crazy schedule to strengthen your network and deepen your relationships?  If so, Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, has some good tips for ritualizing relationship building so that it can become a habit over time.  Let me know which ones work best for you!

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