Article in brief: the author discusses the importance of being socially healthy in our journey to long lives and good health.
We humans, as diverse as we are, we unite in common causes, two of them being having long lives and good health. From strict diet regimens to multivitamin pills, this is how most of us today try to avoid diseases. While nutritious diets and regular exercising are important, I believe that being socially healthy will improve our mental health and will in turn better our health.
Years ago, I read an article about the Italian village of Campodimele, where the average life expectancy for both males and females was 95 – exceeding both the Italian and European standards.
According to the article, the citizens of that village lived long and healthy lives, because they lived in “harmony with the land, the seasons, and each other.” Over the years, I have grown to believe that health comes by having a natural and well-balanced diet plan, regular exercising and by taking care of the environment.
A couple of days back, I read the article again, now with a different perspective. Although physical health is equally important, I realized that our minds are worlds of their own, and that they themselves contribute to our health. Additionally, to be mentally healthy, one should be socially healthy; something that we as a society lack, which, in my opinion is one of the many reasons we have high obesity and cholesterol levels.
The long lives of Campodimele’s people are not only attributed to their diets, but to the fact that they grow and cook their food from scratch, which promotes and gives importance to activity and sociability. The sense of community togetherness in serving a common purpose is what strengthens a person’s spirit, as idealistic as it sounds.
Our minds and bodies are interdependent, and so our health will be affected in the distant future unless both are attended to.
As a Muslim, I strongly believe that lives, whether long or short, are in the hands of Allah. However, we also believe that it is our fundamental duty to take care of our bodies.
Away from Campodimele, in the neighborhood I have lived in for the past 17 years, it is safe to say that the only neighbors I personally know are the ones I am related to. Could it be a personal fault? Perhaps. But this scenario can be repeated in many, if not most, neighborhoods.
Not only do we not serve a common purpose, or interact as often as we should, but we live with many complications that further strain our relationships. We were taught to always think the worst of people, to not share too much in fear of the evil eye. I don’t wish to generalize, but I do not recall instances where the social togetherness of Campodimele was embodied in the least bit here. How often were your surroundings encouraging of your ideas and ambitions? How often were you too proud to ask for help in fear of rejection? How often did social anxiety and fear of gossip control your actions?
We may walk more and have less sugar, but unless we live like the Campodimelians, we will not truly live.
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