A Story of Friendships, Healing, and Change: A Journey of Transformation
By Guest Author, Gillian Pieper, M.Ed.
It’s my contention, after 25 years in the health and wellness field, that perseverance rarely comes without support from our friends. Our society is set up to honor heroic acts and single feats of grandeur. But if we look behind the curtain, most often there really is a village helping turn the wheels and prop up the person in front. Our peers, our family and friends, and our co-workers all make a difference in how we choose to live our lives.
Ah, but you might say friends can have a bad influence as much as good. Sure. No question. The famous Framingham Heart Study agrees.
The Framingham people were the first to make the connection between behavior and heart disease; the first to tell us if we eat a lot of “bad” foods and don’t exercise were more likely to have a heart attack. After 40 years of studying this subject, Framingham researchers also found that we’re birds of a feather. If you smoke and you hang around with a lot of smokers, you’re less likely to quit. The same is true for overeating and lack of exercise. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that it goes both ways. When one person quits smoking, all her friends take notice and, Framingham determined, at least one of her ten smoking friends will follow suit. Then one of that person’s ten smoking friends will do the same and so on.
The ripple effect is exciting!
So, if it’s true that healing rarely happens in a vacuum, why not take this power of friends and channel it in a structured and intentionally positive direction? Why not leverage the good news? Just as we can leverage the power of the mind to heal by placebo, why not influence our change with the power of friendship, familiarity, camaraderie, and on-going yet free support?
Our colleague, a renowned culture specialist, Dr. Judd Allen of the Human Resources Institute, and friend/peer mentoring expert points out that clinical resources for healing are often limited and impose time constraints. Friends provide a natural form of support. They are always there, in our lives almost daily, and in it for the long haul. Oh, and did I mention they’re FREE!
Friends know you. They know your local resources and options for success. They know your likes and dislikes. They know your limitations, but better yet know your strengths in surmounting your flaws. They’ve seen you succeed and they expect nothing less.
Friends want to change too. They’re in it with you rather than an outside judge. They’ll often go to the class or the meeting with you, or pick up that same inspiring book, or do that same difficult challenge. Shared experience is richer, more flavorful, more colorful and more indelible in our ever-important reservoir of happy memories.
I recently finished an intense 10-day “cleanse” diet. I had to seriously restrict my food and drink boring shakes every five minutes. It was hard. Really hard. I was grumpy and spacey, and I kept forgetting why it even mattered! But… Three of my close friends and family did the cleanse with me. If not for them, I would have given up. Every day we processed and shared what we experienced. We commiserated together, and we dreamed of bread, coffee, and wine together!
We were there for each other and we celebrate the outcomes together! It was well worth the challenge!
These same people have helped me lose 15 pounds of fat over the past year by creating a whole new lifestyle. Because they matter to me and because I matter to them, we Zumba, we box, we dance, we do core strength exercises (OMG so hard, but so worth it!), we laugh, we sweat, we eat amazing healthy food, we play; we grow together! We learn from each other and celebrate our positive changes. We help turn the wheels behind the scenes no matter how difficult the challenge for each. And, we stick to the excitement of each of our dreams making sure each has a fighting chance at her own heroism.
Imagine the world if everyone had such focus!
And did I mention it’s free? Care and concern, joy and compassion, and, of course, laughter are all free!
The power of the mind is indeed powerful! It becomes ever so much more powerful when supported by the influence and reinforcement of friends. Think about your friends and how they impact your health. How can you be a role model and begin to support the change in your circle of friends and family?
Think about it, and just by putting it in your train of thought you’ll be starting on one of the best paths possible in positive, holistic healing!