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Holiday Cards in July?

photo(4)I dumped our stack of holiday cards into the corner mailbox this morning, feeling relieved to have gotten them out the door before January or February (for the first time ever).  Getting our act together to get cards made and mailed isn’t easy and undoubtedly involves a swift argument over who was on the hook to get the missing addresses, followed by a late-night push to get envelopes stuffed and stamped.  If it’s such a scramble, what keeps us (primarily North Americans and Asians, according to wikipedia) sending cards year after year (the first “Christmas card” was sent in 1843)?  I think it’s because we crave the connection, the inspiration and the pure joy that comes with seeing lively photos of people we love and catching up on our friends’ lives in a different way than we’re used to.  Opening a hand-written card from a friend makes me feel closer to that person….it reassures me that despite time and distance, our friendship endures….and it often inspires me that people are doing really cool, amazing, special things in their lives.

There is a ton of research supporting the relationship between social connection and health.  The depth of relationships (check out this New York Times story on Blue Zone city, Ikaria, Greece to learn more), the breadth of relationships (our social network), and the behaviors of people within our networks all matter (for more info about how friends’ health behaviors impact our own health, check out Nicholas Christakis‘s research…I’ll cover this in more depth in another post).  The bottom line is, we’re more likely to be healthy if we’re connected to other people…especially if those people take good care of themselves.

So as I explore the “love” area of my wellfesto, I encourage you to join me in testing new ways to reach out.  What simple things can you do to bring stronger relationships and greater connection into your life?  Maybe sending a holiday card is a  good way to start — even if it’s in July (actually, maybe even better if it’s in July)!  Maybe it’s calling a long-lost friend out of the blue.  Maybe it’s telling someone intentionally and specifically why you’re happy they’re in your life.  Maybe it’s sending a personal email every morning before you start your workday.  While the act itself may seem small, the impact can be huge.  In this complicated world during these challenging times, it’s up to each and every one of us to keep “MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT!”

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