In this day and age, we work hard. Really hard. We all hustle in order to make a living. But research has shown stopping to smell the roses—by focusing on our side passions, practicing self-care, and spending time with loved ones—is a crucial element of living a long life.
There’s significant research indicating that these so-called “soft” sciences have an effect on our body and behavior. For example, research has shown those who are optimistic and have good overall mental health are less likely to smoke and more likely to both exercise and eat a healthy diet.
Other research has shown exercising with a buddy makes you more likely to lose weight than if you were to go at it alone. Another study showed people who received a daily hug were 32 percent less likely to get sick. If that’s not a reason to go hug your loved ones right now, we don’t know what is!
Although it’s important to keep our brains young through work and intellectual stimulation, it’s just as important to have fulfilling relationships and a sense of purpose. Ask yourself about the quality of your relationships, career path and connections. Do you have a purpose? Do you love? Are you loved in return?
Assess where you are and what you need to do in order to make improvements. These issues can be deep and complicated, and certainly aren’t easy to solve with one tip or trick. But we do believe you can take small steps to both find your purpose (say by exploring a side passion) and foster connections (like joining a meetup group in your area).
Another thing you can do is practice mindfulness—the skill of being present and engaged. It takes work, but it’s worth it. Schedule time into your life to nurture your connections and do the things you love. Whether this means weekly FaceTime calls with your best friend or visiting the local art museum once a month, make sure you schedule time to stop and smell the roses.
When we think about longevity, it can be tempting to ponder things like bionic body parts and hearts that beat with infinite power. But it’s also important to realize that one of the best ways to ensure we live long, fulfilling lives is to have a sense of purpose and surround ourselves with those we love.
Read next: What Is Your Purpose in Life?
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo by @criene/Twenty20.com