A Reflection on Health
by Billy Cioffredi, PT
“John, how are your classes going this semester?”
“Hey Dad,” my son answered. “Most are really interesting. One required class in health education seemed like a dud, but then something really piqued my interest. The professor asked our class, ‘What do you feel are the top 2-3 problems in the country?’ and my classmates answered with obesity, racial injustice, sexual assault, the opioid crisis, and the like. I said community building.”
My son’s response really struck me; but why? It took me a moment to process the concept.
“John, I think you hit on something that is really important.”
There are many challenges in today’s world. I sometimes feel like there are so many different issues and special interest groups that there can’t possibly be enough time, energy, or resources for us to adequately address them all. Community building is just one thing, but it touches all the others—and it turns out that it’s also connected to our overall health.
In order to build community you have to build relationships. To build relationships you have to communicate and understand your neighbor’s point of view. While we have commonalities within our group, we are each different. We have different histories and we have our own unique perspectives on the world, and so we need to have tolerance for another’s viewpoint if we are going to develop relationships.
Each of us belongs to a variety of groups—communities with a common interest—like our family, our local church, our exercise buddies, or the town we live in. Each of these “belongings” provides a common sense of purpose, as well as a responsibility to provide help or support, such as by supporting others physically or emotionally, helping animals, or caring for the environment. One of my communities is our company, Cioffredi & Associates, and through it I have the privilege to help not only our clients, but also my colleagues, as well as people from other organizations that refer clients to us. The relationships I build and the support I provide in this community bring me a tremendous sense of purpose.
It should be no surprise that research is now indicating that our happiness is related to having strong, rich relationships, and having purpose. This, in turn, is reflected in better physical health.
It should be no surprise that research is now indicating that our happiness is related to having strong, rich relationships, and having purpose. This, in turn, is reflected in better physical health. Now imagine if each of us could be active and constructive participants in all of our groups (small or large), sharing a common sense of purpose and tending to avoid destructive intentions. And what if we considered ourselves part of the community of humankind? Maybe acting on this one thing, building community, would resolve so many of our challenges.
What groups do you belong to?