Insights: Popping By

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I was sitting with some friends the other day and talking about how important our friendships are to each other.

I tend to have an open-door policy with my friends, which means if you are in the neighborhood, pop on by. I enjoy these moments, sometimes even if it is just for a minute or two.

I know this is not for everyone, yet for me I enjoy this very much. The friends I was talking to mentioned that they wished more people would do this. In the neighborhood I live in, because we live so close to each other, it is pretty common practice for us to pop over to each other’s houses.

Feeling connected is such an essential part of feeling content in our lives. I believe we often take for granted how important these connections are. You do not need to be best friends to pop by, sometimes it is just caring about someone’s well being because they have been sick or had a loss in their lives.

I know how much I appreciated people coming by with a meal, flowers or just to say hi when I had needed it last year.

Yesterday I went out and bought a plant for a neighbor with a card and left it on their doorstep. Why? Just because. I don’t need a reason. To me connecting with others is as important as exercise. It is just something we need. Studies show that it decreases anxiety, depression, illnesses, and inflammation, along with increasing our life span and our happiness level.

I read an article recently stating that our social connectedness is decreasing at an astounding rate. It is interesting to me that as social media has increased, we are more isolated, lonelier, feels more inadequate than ever before. Fewer people are reporting that they have close friends that they can share personal information with.

Brene Brown, who has written many books that touch on the importance of connection, states “a deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

I believe as a culture we too often think that independence, self-reliance, beauty and money are the key to happiness. This is an illusion.

I remember when I moved a few years back. I tried to be friendly with a neighbor who was elderly. She was resistant to my approaches. However, over the years she softened and often calls me if I do not visit. As I have moved from that area it is more difficult for me to visit. However when I do visit I am always glad that I made the effort, for both of us.

I want to share a story of how my friend popping by my house saved my life.  I was sick at home one day and one of my neighbors about five doors down decided to pop by with some soup she had made. She found me sick. I thought I had the flu and just needed to rest. She did not agree with me and insisted I go to the hospital. I very reluctantly went to the hospital at her insistence, only to find out if I had not gone I might not have made it due to a serious infection.

It might not save your life, or make you rich, but “popping by” may just give you more than what we could have imagined.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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