At our BioChemistry course, one of the highlights was the delineation of bodily functions. One more of the macro end, certain functions were enumerated. Included in that list were functions such as breathing, hydrating, sleeping, and eating.
These were ordered in terms of how long you could go without them. Breathing was numbered first, of course. But this wasn’t the only way they were classified.
Another way to look at functions is through the lens of leverage. Which functions have more leverage over the others? Which functions change others the most?
In his book, OUTLIERS, Malcolm Gladwell highlights the unusual degree of health of the members of a community. Researchers tried to ascertain what was behind their robust health. They started with the usual suspects.
It wasn’t what they ate or didn’t eat. It wasn’t what they drank or didn’t drink. It wasn’t their work or the work they didn’t do.
It all came down to one term in the first sentence. Community. The social function was the lever behind the extraordinary health of this community…and we explain why this is the case.
There aren’t that many ways to breathe, or to meet your necessity for atmosphere, especially oxygen. There are a few more ways to drink, or to deliver water into your system. While there are phases for sleep, and all are necessary, there aren’t many variations to meet that necessity.
And when it comes to eating, in the microscopic way, you need the macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You also require a host of micronutrients which are usually present in nutrient rich foods. And while there are many ways to move, each musculoskeletal movement is easily enumerated and measured.
But when we look at the magnitude of social relationships, and the fact that a functional social group can number up to 150 people, and all the numerous 1 on 1 relationships as well as smaller group relationships that can form, it’s no wonder that socialization is such a protective factor…compared to the rest of our functions. In number, social functions dwarf all other functions.
It’s for that reason that our social competence and practice should be just as important if not more important than diet, exercise, and sleep. Being social is not only what keeps us alive, being social is what makes a life. A life shared with others is a life lived best.