'Tis the season for social events - office parties, book group luncheons, family get-togethers. That can be a good thing.
But not always and not for everyone.
No matter where you are stuck or overwhelmed, how does being with your "people" support your optimal health?
It's not a good thing if you would rather tuck into bed with a good book than make small talk with people you don't know very well. What feels like fun to some people may feel obligatory to you.
And it's not a good thing if you come away from an event, whether it is for work or with family, feeling as though you ate a giant helping of loneliness or discontent or fragility.
I was invited to two events this past week and what I noticed surprised me...
The first event was hosted by a friend who had invited 25 of her friends to mingle and enjoy themselves. I expected to enjoy myself because I love and admire my friend very much.
What I didn't expect was that during dinner I would sit next to a woman who had interviewed Glenn Beck for her radio show. I expected her to say how little she had in common with him, but instead she told me about how very nuanced her conversation with him had been and how her compassion had been stretched and her heart opened. We talked and talked.
When I put my coat on to leave the party, I realized I had eaten a giant double helping of humility and open-heartedness and equanimity. And I felt light and energized.
The second event was my spirit-daughter's wedding. I had the expected "spirit-mother-of-the-bride" jitters and yes, I ate my fill of wedding cupcakes.
But what I didn't expect was the bride's brother's toast to the wedding couple - he thanked both brides for being who they are and for paving the way for his young daughter to courageously enter the world as who she is - in a newly buzzed haircut and a miniature velvet tux. The tears flowed and I gulped down huge bites of authenticity and tenderness and trust in the underlying goodness of humanity. I left the wedding tired but exhilarated.
I realize what makes both of these events so important to me is that I was with my people - not people I know very well, necessarily, nor people I was born with, nor people I even expected to be with. But people who are enlivened by the same things that enliven me.
And that feels super healthy.
Make finding your people and eating what they offer you, with intentionality, a healthy habit.