Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Community - It's Good For You!

“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others...By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”
Gordon B. Hinckley
“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
Mark Twain

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”
Charlotte Brontë

I am always crazy busy!  It’s entirely possible you’ve been coming to the store for years and we’ve never met.  (Let’s fix that!)  But I have to say that adding these extra elements to the store has created one of the happiest summers of my life – and that’s saying something!  After all, who doesn’t remember, with possibly false nostalgia, happy carefree summers of our youth?  But this summer has provided opportunities for me to really get to know some of you at a new level.  To share your stories and lives, and to be vulnerable with mine.  There truly is no greater gift we can give one another. 
As I’ve continued my research into the devastating effects that the decline of community has had on our lives, I’m absolutely astonished at the amount of research that’s been done on it.  There is a lot of science backing up what I’ve been feeling for years.  Let me share some more of what I’ve learned….

In the book “Bowling Alone” (which I mentioned in a previous post) it states that community “makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.”  Wow!  That is absolutely incredible, don’t you think?  Quite a claim!  And yet, there is science to back it up.  Lots of science!

Here are some of the reasons the book lists for why community leads to better health:  1)  community furnishes tangible assistance.  Remember the story I told in an earlier post about how one of my customers became friends with another customer and ended up providing transportation to a dentist appointment?  It’s that kind of assistance that tangibly leads to better health.  But there’s much, much more!  2)  Being a regular member of a community makes it obvious when you are absent.  You can let your imagination run wild with stories you’ve heard about people not getting help they need in an emergency because nobody knew.  3)  Community reinforces healthy norms – people engaged in community activities are much less likely to overeat, drink, smoke and engage in other “socially unacceptable behaviors”.  And the one I’ve alluded to before, 4) being engaged in community actually boosts your immune system!  Perhaps it’s as simple as the notion that you’re better able to fight off germs when you have some exposure to germs.  (That was always my excuse for a messy house when my kids were little – I was helping them to develop good immunity).  But scientific studies have proven that isolation increases hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.  Dozens of large studies in the U.S., Scandinavia and Japan have shown that people who are socially disconnected are two to five more times likely to die prematurely compared to those with good community ties.

Here is a quote from the book that struck me as incredibly telling, but also kind of quirky/funny:
“The bottom line from this multitude of studies:  As a rough rule of thumb, if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.  If you smoke and belong to no groups, it’s a toss-up statistically whether you should stop smoking or start joining.  These findings are in some ways heartening:  it’s easier to join a group than to lose weight, exercise regularly, or quit smoking.”

And here’s something even better – you don’t have to be a “joiner” every single day.  Research has shown that even once a month participation in community makes a significant difference!  That’s totally doable!  Even for a crazy-busy-woman like me!

I would love to talk to you about what I’m learning, about how you feel about these posts, about our community together!  We have some special workshops for that, or you can stop by the shop.  These kinds of conversations are becoming the norm as we navigate through the changes that are coming with the opening of the rail and the closing of yet another mom & pop store.  Just how important is community to us – right here and right now?

So, please make it a habit to stop by once a month (or more)!  You can come to the FREE demos on Tuesday between 12 & 2.  Or join us for the FREE make-and-take on Thursdays between 10 & 8.  Or take a class – here’s a list of what’s available through August, but it gets updated regularly.  Or, take one of our special offerings (listed below).  But come – it’s good for you!

Tuesday, July 15 at 9 AM – Guided Meditation using the Psalms
Saturday, July 19 at 9 AM – Labyrinth Walking Meditation

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