I’ve blogged a lot about the power of the community, and why it’s so important to have a social support network.

There’s even a study that says improving your social support network is valued up to £85,000, and your health worth a whopping £300,000! [1]

Okay!  You’re ready for a change in lifestyle, you’re motivated and ready to kick some ass in life!  But how do you go about building one up so you and your community can be awesome?

You want to surround yourself with really interesting and positive people so they can support you and send power-mojo your way, but there’s just one problem.  There’s no manual on how to create a community.

Well, fear not – you’ve found that manual!

It all starts from a place of giving.

When you initiate and make the first move, you give your time and energy to help someone.  And when you do that, you build up a stronger bond between the two of you.

And the act of ‘giving’ has to be genuine and deliberate so it has to have the intention of actually helping someone for it to really work.

But when you do show interest in someone, they will reciprocate and do something for you or they pass it on to someone else in need of help.  This concept of paying it forward has been around but when you get these people together, you have a community of like-minded individuals who are willing to contribute themselves for a higher purpose.

And this is where things really take-off!

As Aristotle’s saying goes:

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

When we live in a society where our attention is always elsewhere; putting people first rarely gets priority.  But when you consciously put it on top of your list, you will see that your relationships will flourish.

It can be as easy as walking over to a colleague’s desk for lunch and proposing to grab a healthy salad meal or grabbing a friend to head to a workout together.  Some of those you invite will be thrilled and excited you ask them, while others will make up some excuse not to join.  Over time, the people you ask who are enthusiastic about your initiatives will form your social support network.

And the more you give to your relationships, the more you get back – not just from them reciprocating, but from the inherent benefit of being selfless.

From the study:

Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: results from a prospective study of mortality.

“This study examines the relative contributions of giving versus receiving support to longevity in a sample of older married adults. Baseline indicators of giving and receiving support were used to predict mortality status over a 5-year period in the Changing Lives of Older Couples sample. Results from logistic regression analyses indicated that mortality was significantly reduced for individuals who reported providing instrumental support to friends, relatives, and neighbors, and individuals who reported providing emotional support to their spouse. Receiving support had no effect on mortality once giving support was taken into consideration. This pattern of findings was obtained after controlling for demographic, personality, health, mental health, and marital-relationship variables. These results have implications for understanding how social contact influences health and longevity.”

And from the book: Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy,

“Researchers have: they’ve found that happy people are ten times more likely to be other-oriented than self-centered. This suggests that happiness is a by-product of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit.”

So it turns out the best way to be selfish, is to be selfless!

Now go out there and inspire someone to get healthy!  And before you know it, you and your community will be thriving!



[1]  “Putting a Price Tag on Friends, Relatives, and Neighbours: Using Surveys of Life Satisfaction to Value Social Relationships” from Journal of Socio-Economics

Lots more great info from Eric Barker:

This Is What Your Relationships Are Worth In Dollars:

What do great workplaces, making friends, networking, dealing with kidnappers and being happy all have in common?

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