3 Things You Need In a Healthy Social Life

In part four of a five-part series, My Total Fitness Plan, my focus is on social fitness. I want to share with you 3 things you need in a healthy social life.  Before I do this, I would like to share with you a true story about one of my group of friends. On a Friday night, December 16, 2011, I met some guys for dinner.  Although we are business owners, we call ourselves a “band of brothers”. The night was great, the food fabulous, and good times were had by all. I drove home that night feeling blessed to have such a tight group of friends. None of us knew a few hours later tragedy would strike one of the band of brothers.  His name is Tony. Early the next morning, I awoke to a text informing me that Tony’s 22 year-old son Chris was killed in an automobile accident.  The leader of our group said that Tony needed some privacy with his family.  Throughout the early morning the band of brothers texted back-and-forth wondering what we should do.  We decided to do what we felt Tony needed. That morning about a half-dozen of Tony’s brothers showed up at his home and when he saw us, collapsed in our arms in grief.  We huddled around Tony and his family, giving support and lifting prayers.  That support continued during the memorial service and throughout the following year. This summer the band of brothers spent a weekend “doing life together” as we call it.  The featured image above shows Tony smiling and having a good time on the boat.  Later we watched a one hour documentary film he did on his son’s story as told from family and friends. The film included what has transpired since Chris’ death. Chris was deeply dedicated to an outreach called OrphaNetwork.  There wasn’t a dry eye in that room. My band of brothers is a healthy social outlet for me. I have grown in ways I did not expect. So, what constitutes a healthy social life?  Here are at least 3 things you need.

You need to have fun

In adult life we spend a huge chunk of our time in roles: spouse, parent, worker, volunteer, etc… While these provide great meaning and fulfillment they also keep us in a task-oriented mode.  If fun is to be had, it generally comes in brief moments in the course of the day. Adults need a break from their roles and spend time having fun with other adults. Why? Social fun shifts your mind from a serious focus to a more relaxed and carefree attitude. When I get together with my band of brothers we enjoy water sports, barbecues, golf, and dinners out. [Tweet “Adults need a break from their roles and spend time having fun with other adults. Why? Social fun shifts your mind from a serious focus to a more relaxed and carefree attitude.”] Do you have a regular fun social outlet with other adults?  If you answered “yes”, good for you! If you don’t, I want to encourage you to find an outlet for yourself.  In addition to my band of brothers, I play basketball 2-3 times a week with a group of guys I met 12 years ago at my health club. Check out this one-minute clip.
Have fun but be safe
Allow me to raise a caution flag. Be careful. In your social fun be safe. Exercise healthy boundaries with yourself and others. Be careful not to put yourself or others at risk when it comes to alcohol consumption. Also, avoid crossing the line or betraying your marriage or fidelity to a partner.  In my professional work, I see the damage done when a person’s idea of fun is unsafe.

You need to know and be known

The brothers I hang with I know very well.  They also know me on a deeper level. As I said, “we do life together”.  In addition to fun, we spend focused time talking about our personal lives, families, businesses, and our faith. We dig deep. It’s okay because we have established three things: acceptance, trust, and unconditional love. If one of us “gets in the grill” of another, it is understood as a caring gesture.
To be known you will need to open up
Do you have a select group of friends who know you deeply?  The kind of people who know it’s okay to show up at your house in a time of crisis? If you want a healthy social life be prepared to open up to others. I’m not advocating you become an open book to everyone. On the other hand, I encourage you to develop the kind of quality relationships where you can be yourself without judgment. The kind of friendships where there is a healthy give-and-take dynamic.  These are powerful.

You need new experiences

One of my favorite movies is “Groundhog Day”. First of all, I think Bill Murray is a genius actor. But what I like most about the movie is the message.  If you don’t seek new experiences your life will be lonely, dreary and meaningless. A year after Tony’s son died, I joined a few of my band of brothers and took a trip to Nicaragua to see the work OrphaNetwork is doing to impact the impoverished areas on the outskirts of capital city of Managua. We visited the medical clinic and feeding program that were established by Tony and another friend John.  The experience was powerful and led to a partnership.
Be ready to step out of your comfort zone
Developing social relationships has opened several new experiences for me that I would have never had on my own. It’s been fun, adventurous, and deeply rewarding. In order to experience this, I had to step out of my comfort zone. How about you? Are you experiencing Ground Hog Day?  Or, have you been intentional in your social life to incorporate new experiences? If you want to have a healthy social life step out of your comfort zone and do something different.  Join a class.  Take on a sport.  Sign up for a club.  Call some old friends. The key is to get out of your routine and try something new.

Now it’s your turn

What do you do socially to have fun?  Share a tidbit with fellow readers. Have you experienced something new lately?  I’d love to hear it! Leave your comments below. Christmas is around the corner.  If you haven’t signed-up for my Christmas gift MY TOTAL FITNESS PLAN Booklet, please do so by filling out the form on the right.