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In the third chapter of ‘The Longevity Plan’ by Dr John Day he says that if you want to live a longer, healthier and happier life, it’s every bit as important to pay attention to your community as to pay attention to what you eat.

‘Community’ means different things to different people, but at its most basic it is the people with whom you surround yourself. In the digital age it can be people you feel connected to via social media. I have to say that I struggle to find people in the real world with whom I feel a real connection. That sounds a bit sad, no actually, it sounds very sad, but it’s the truth. It’s partly because many people my age have grown up children and/or grandchildren and so their lives revolve around family. My partner and I live 180 miles from our parents and we don’t have any children. We therefore have very different lives from most other people our age.

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I spend a lot of my time reading and learning about how to make positive changes in my life. Others probably don’t have as much time as I do, but often I feel that they’re just not very committed to making changes, as it takes determination and hard work. It also takes motivation and sometimes until something happens to give you that motivation then it makes it hard to stick with it during the difficult times. Unfortunately changes in my health made me see the value of looking after myself and motivates me every day to eat well, exercise and enjoy life. I feel that people without a strong motivation talk about losing weight, doing more exercise, etc., but it rarely comes to anything. I am therefore one of those sad people whose community is a virtual one – I feel more in common with people whose blogs I read than with my friends, colleagues and neighbours.

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Sports teams, interest groups, political organisations and lifelong learning classes are great ways to meet new people. I always say that the world isn’t going to come to you. If you want to meet people you need to get out there and join groups, volunteer or sign up for evening classes.

Apparently, if you’re surrounded by people who don’t lift you up, won’t treat you right and don’t appreciate your goals, you stand a much lower chance of living a long, healthy and happy life. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I certainly know that over the years I have become more like my partner and I use phrases that I have picked up from him and am influenced by his thinking. The trick is to spend time with people that you admire and want to emulate. For me, the trouble is finding them in the first place.  

The healthiest communities are those in which we’re surrounded by people with mutual goals and values and who act accordingly and consistently. I listened to an episode of the ‘Do It Scared’ podcast the other day which was about the core values of Ruth Soukup’s organisation. It was really interesting to hear how they helped influence ways of working. It made such a change to hear employees talking about the positives of working for their organisation.

So how do you find your ‘community’? Do your friends share your interests or do you feel you connect more with others on social media? Do you get to spend time with others who ‘lift you up’? I’d be really interested to know.