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Build Your Village & love them well

The two strongest predictors of how to live a longer and happier life relate to your social life.

Build Your Village & love them well
Allison Blythe

I recently watched a TED talk video and it discussed the strongest predictors of how long you live. You automatically want to think that the strongest predictors would have to do with how you eat if you are a smoker, how much you exercise, etc. But this TED Talk revealed some interesting results. Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University performed a study on thousands of middle-aged individuals while looking at every aspect of their lifestyle. She and the other researchers then waited seven years to see who was still living and observed what reduced their chances of dying.

They found that the top two predictors of how long you live were close relationships and social integration. Both of these having to do with your social life.

Your close relationships are the ones who will do anything for you. The ones you call when you need something or have something exciting to tell. The ones you would simply call your best friends.

Social integration means interacting with people in every part of your day. Whether it's your mail carrier, someone who opens the door for you, the lady at the drive-thru window, your co-workers, etc.

These two predictors solidify the reason why God made us be in community with one another. According to the TED Talk, face-to-face contact, eye-contact, or shaking hands, releases oxytocin, which increases your level of trust. We need to be connected with people to make us feel good and lower stress.

Being around people and having that interaction is like a natural morphine to reduce pain or stress. It is a biological need to know that we belong. We have to find our people so we can find our place of belonging to ultimately live longer and happier lives. What stuck out the most to me in the TED Talk was when the speaker said: "I call this building your village."

So, we have to build our village to sustain all of life's adventures with love and support.

This summer, mine and Kyle's "village" has gone through quite a bit of change. We've had some friends move away and almost every one of them are now married. Our community group is changing and it has been just a little different for us.

Since all of these changes have occurred, Kyle came up with the idea to have a "housewarming circuit" since there have been a lot of people move into new apartments and homes and it's all a little different now so we don't want our hang out time to be altered too.

So now every Sunday night we all gather at one of our homes for dinner and a game night. It is the thing I look forward to the most out of each week. I see most of them throughout the week, but to have everyone together {who is still in town} is just the best feeling. It takes my stress away and acts as that natural morphine when I am surrounded by our community of friends.

A couple weeks ago, it was our turn to host at Kyle's new apartment. We fixed breakfast (for dinner) for 13 people. He did the pancakes as I whipped up 3 dozen scrambled eggs and had a rotation of sizzling bacon and flaky biscuits on pans in the oven. His little bitty apartment was completely packed with of some of our favorite people. Bellies were full and my heart was filled with gratitude.

While everyone was going through the line, I just looked around as tears of joy filled my eyes. I had the biggest smile on my face with the fullest heart. I just burst out and said, "This is like a dream come true to cook for everyone and to have everyone all together." And I truly meant that. I don't think I can name anything much better than these Sunday nights we are getting to spend together as a community.

God gave us each other to be in constant fellowship with. When God created the heavens and the earth He named everything as good. Genesis 2:18 after He created Adam, he said it was not good for man to be alone. This was the first time God said something was not good. So God created Eve.

Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

We are to work together as a community in a village to build God's kingdom. We are to be there for one another as a friend at all times and to show others Jesus by our words and actions. We are to be a light in a dark world and we need a strong community group to keep us accountable. We have to have people in our village we trust and that know our hearts (and vice versa). We need to know their strengths and weaknesses and they need to know ours. We need each other to guide one another in the way the Lord has called us.

I type all of this to say, find your village and love them well. When you find them, make sure you are spending quality time together frequently. I am so very thankful for each and every one of the sweet souls in our community group. Each of them shines so brightly in very different ways. That is what makes it so special. And now I love our weekly gatherings because it creates a set time that we get to spend together. We know that God placed us in each other's lives for a reason and I will forever be thankful for our amazing friendships.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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