Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind. Steve Maraboli

Last night the book club met at a coffee shop. We were going to have our Christmas dinner in January but no one had a place they wanted to go, so we ended up going to Starbucks.  We were lucky to get a table. The baby that was born when I first joined the book club turned eighteen and was celebrating his one year anniversary with his girlfriend, his Mom had to leave early to pick them up.

We’ve added a couple of new members so we can meet more regularly. When the membership is too small it makes it hard to meet as everyone’s schedules don’t mesh.

One of our youngest members whose oldest is also eighteen said that the book club has been really important to her. She’s stayed home and raised her kids and hasn’t been out in the workforce for thirteen years. She doesn’t miss working but she does miss the social aspect of work.

“We lose ourselves in motherhood,” she says. “We need to find ourselves again.”

“What have you found?” One of the newest members asks.

“I’m not there yet,” she replies.

The book club is not made up of a bunch of close friends. We’ve become friends over the years, but we mostly meet over books, coffee, tea, and conversation. We have shared conversations that would have been hard to have with other people. We read books that shine a light on something, and from that starting point, we can talk.

We are a group of women who talk about the important things in life and share what we’ve learned along the way. Someone always has a story to tell about something that has happened to them or someone they know. Last night was no different.

What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation. Glenn Close

Being connected to other people is important for our health. People with fewer social connections have more risk of early death. What does this say about us as our families become smaller and smaller?

People who make new social connections are less likely to develop depression, and people who maintain and build their social group connections have greater well-being during major transitions like retirement.

There is a correlation between social connectedness and mental health. 25,000 New Zealand adults were studied over four years using the longitudinal New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study. It was found that when a person’s level of social connection goes down, they experience worse mental health a year later.

The relationship also went the other way; people with good mental health were more socially connected a year later. The influence of social connectedness on mental health over time was about three times stronger than the other way around.

How can we harness the power of social connection to improve our health and the health of our communities? Social connectedness is more than mere contact with other people, or even being a member of social groups. It is about feeling you belong to that group; that you trust others and they trust you in a shared purpose, and that group members can rely on each other.

It seems we need to find groups we can belong to that are trusting, supportive and have a shared meaning and purpose. That purpose can be anything; it might be a community garden, book club, service organization, church, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, Alanon, 12 step programs, or Toastmasters.

Do we have enough social connectedness? Is there a group we should start, or join?

If we start being honest about our pain, our anger, and our shortcomings instead of pretending they don’t exist, then maybe we’ll leave the world a better place than we found it. Russell Wilson

I didn’t speak to anyone about postpartum depression, I was very reluctant. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it. Adele

About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times. C.G. Jung

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World Paperback – Sep 25 2018

by Lynne McTaggart (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 171 ratings

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