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[LG&FY] Step 4: Give your body the social connection it needs

By Marcus Santer

You know I’ve never been to Coventry.

Can’t tell you anything about it.

But when I was at school my so called friends once sent me there.

And in case you don’t know what being sent to Coventry means, it’s a British term for deliberately acting like someone doesn’t exist. You ignore them and act as if they’re invisible.

It’s horrible and it taps into what I consider to be a core fear.

Ostracism.

Back in our Hunter Gather past, being deliberately excluded from the tribe was a death sentence. Because the chances of being able to survive on your own were slim.

Ostracism occurs in all social creatures.

As Kip Williams, psychological science professor at Purdue put it:

“To my knowledge, in the animal kingdom, ostracism is not only a form of social death it also results in death. The animal is unable to protect itself against predators, cannot garner enough food and usually dies within a short period of time.”

And make no mistake about it, we humans are a social species and we benefit from spending time with others.

There’s even research claiming that loneliness is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And that’s not some sensational tabloid headline devoid of facts. It’s based on heavy-duty investigation of the subject.

Loneliness has also been linked to increased risks of:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Disability
  3. Cognitive decline
  4. Depression
  5. Suicide
  6. Higher use of medication
  7. Falls

You can see the research on the harmful effects of loneliness here.

Now we all need different levels of social contact. And no one could ever accuse me of being the most social animal.

For example:

I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand and I spend huge chunks of time alone in my Woffice writing and creating products guaranteed to help you look great and feel younger.

But I’m in regular contact with my friends and I’m very close to my family.

I also have a black Labrador named Louis.

And when it comes to being sociable and outgoing, Louis is Yang to my Yin. As soon as we step foot outside the house, he’s homing in like a heat seeking missile on the nearest dogs rear for a sniff.

And when he’s not doing that he’s Love Mugging anyone who’s within range.

All of which means it’s impossible for me not to get dragged into social interaction during his walks.

This gives me all the social contact I need and an hours walk every day in the beautiful Devon countryside.

Whilst we’re all different in the amount of face to face time we need, make no mistake about it, you need it.

Now if you feel you need more face-to-face time – sorry folks social media just doesn’t cut it – I personally don’t recommend getting a dog. They take a lot of maintenance, time and energy.

Instead I suggest you join a club, or learn a new skill.

Just make certain you’re spending face-to-face time with a group of people you like and have something in common with.

Here’s a bonus tip for you whilst were on this subject.

Because if you’re anything like I was, the idea of deliberate social interaction might make you feel like a slug about to fall into a tub of salt.

Well, fear not because I discovered there’s only one social skill you need to learn.

Let me explain:

I used to think the key to being sociable was to be the one doing all the talking.

But you know what?

You don’t want to be that guy.

That guy talking about himself and how wonderful he is, is so boring he makes paint yawn.

Here’s the real secret to being sociable:

“Be interested, not interesting”
Brian Kurtz

Your job is simply to get people to talk about their favourite subject.

Which is?

Themselves.

Whenever possible shut up and ask people to tell you about themselves. Ask them questions relevant to the social situation you’re both at. For example you could ask them about:

And then dig deeper based on their answers.

Like I said, we’re social creatures and if you use this skill it doesn’t take long before you’ll find yourself genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to.

I promise you, being interested is so much easier than trying to be interesting and it makes socialising so much easier and rewarding too.

Bye for now

Marcus

P.S. If you found this tip useful, you’re gonna feel like a kid in a candy store with a copy of my book:

ZEN+ The Art and Science of Living Healthier for Longer.

It’s 196 pages packed with 120 science backed tips all focused on helping you to look great and feel younger.

Find out more here.