And I hope you have a lot of good friends, since a few days ago, the NY Times Well Blog (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/a-new-risk-factor-your-social-life/) related a study that found that people with strong ties to others have a fifty percent lower risk of dying over a given period of time.
Strangely, the piece was entitled “A New Risk Factor: Your Social Life.” New risk factor? Well, the researchers did conclude that having few friends or weak community ties is as harmful to health as being an alcoholic or smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes a day, and twice as risky as being obese. But that view is through the lens of pathology, what can go wrong. The same findings could have been labeled “Finally: Real Preventive Medicine.”
It’s odd that we think of “preventive medicine” in terms of disease. There’s nothing wrong with getting periodic mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA and cholesterol monitoring and the like, but that's not preventive medicine, only early diagnosis. This study, expressed more positively, establishes that we’re less likely to get sick if we lead a full life, which includes broad and deep relationships.
I’d be surprised if that hadn’t already occurred to most of us. Do we really need studies to tell us how to live? I remember asking a friend (from the generation even older than mine) how she was. She answered, "I don't know; I don't see my doctor till next Tuesday."
One factor in longevity has to be enjoyment, having such a good time that we simply want to hang around longer. And now, finally, here’s the scientific evidence some of us require that will back that up.