Are You Truly Connected?


Arnette Travis

By Arnette Travis, Author/Activist/Advocate, RLACEI Contributing Author


ccording to an 85-year study at Harvard University, the number one key to a long, healthy and happy life is social fitness: positive relationships with other people. Similarly, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner distilled nine habits of the longest living people worldwide, a third of which involve other people. Additional extensive research supports these findings and concludes that relationships with other people are essential to our mental and emotional well-being. 

Positive relationships increase our self-esteem, empathy and trust, and nurture growth. These unique human characteristics are necessary for good health. Positive interactions increase the production of the feel-good hormones: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These are all neurotransmitters that contribute to stress relief, relaxation and a general sense of well-being. These feelings extend beyond the moment and provide benefits for our mental and physical health.

Unfortunately, many of our social connections are severed when we retire, unless we make a commitment to maintain relationships. This commitment must be followed by intentional action to connect on a regular, scheduled basis. How many times have you accidentally run into a former work colleague/friend and you both promise to “get together soon,” but somehow never find the time or even remember to do so?

Act Now

Make a “hit list” of the people whose company you genuinely enjoy.

  • Contact at least one person whom you’ve lost touch with and schedule to spend time catching up and renewing your friendship. Before you part, schedule another date and time to get together.
  • Be open to forging connections with new people, especially younger ones. As we age, death becomes a commonplace occurrence, and we risk running out of friends.
  • Make it a priority to engage socially as often as you are inclined to and are able to do so. Your life will be healthier, happier, and longer as a result!

What Can You Do?

If you’re struggling with a lack of growth and motivation, find ways to inject purpose and structure into your life to make retirement a time of happiness and freedom. What a great way to start your “Attitude of Gratitude”!