In his book, Strength to Strength, author Douglas Brooks writes that as we age,  it is the quality of our relationships, not money, career, or success that brings us the truest happiness. For many of us, there is an intrinsic, deeper knowledge that status and possessions only go so far; in fact, those things can often lead to feeling empty if there’s no one to share them with!

The Covid- 19 pandemic had many far-reaching effects. For some, crisis brought them closer to loved ones, others grew apart. How we worked, traveled, and socialized all changed in an instant.  Most of us worked from home and did not go out to socialize at all for extended periods of time. The fear of getting Covid had a natural side effect of loneliness and isolation.

If this article is hitting close to home, then it might be time to start reaching out to the friends and family members that you want to have richer relationships with. Your body’s muscles need consistent use to be effective—why not flex your social muscles? We are talking about just a text or phone call to set up a time to connect. One simple act that could restore or reinvigorate some of your most important relationships.

As we roll into the holidays and the New Year, it’s a good time to contemplate the relationships that we invest in and the ones we’ve let lapse. Are there family members or friends that you would like to see more often or in a deeper context? I understand that reaching out to people can leave us feeling vulnerable.  There is always the chance people we care about or would like to see more might not feel the same way, but it’s worth the risk. Almost every decision we make in life comes with some risk—is isolation a better choice?

Douglas Brooks also writes about how having trusted friendships, outside of our loved ones, has massive effect on our wellbeing. Being able to talk about what’s important in life and to find connection with others is so critical to our health. Consistent loading of our muscles builds and strengthens them- consistent quality communication and shared gratitude helps strengthen our social muscles and relationships. Relationships are what give us happiness down the road and make our lives worthwhile.

The more you reach out, the more you show up for the crucial people in your life, the more they’re going to show up for you. Showing up is what cultivates new and old relationships. It shows you care and want to be in people’s lives. And that is one of the key pillars of a truly healthy life.

Let’s make 2023 the year of cultivating community and building quality social fitness!