You need to change your life by meeting people.
More than 75 years of research indicates that good quality personal relationships are essential for your mental and physical health and can indicate how healthy you will be later in life. These high quality social relationships in mid-life are predictors of how healthy you will be later on. But this fact often gets overlooked in our ongoing pursuit of happiness.
My personal experience from a journey of intentionally meeting a new person every day for a full year absolutely changed my life. It helped me get out of depression, helped me build self-confidence and introduced me to my partner. Unlike the photo of me above from 2008, meeting new people had me head-over-heels in love with life and the daily pursuit of a meaningful goal.
Today I’ll share a short story – a recent, true story – of how meeting a stranger changed my life and explain why you need to change your life by meeting people too.
When Opportunity Knocks
Having recently left the big city for the small town of Canmore, Alberta we knew no-one here. Not a soul. On the third day in Canmore, there was a knock on the door. It was a man who I’d never met before, David. He was here to see if a remote control that he had forgotten was still in the apartment. It was. David was the tenant who lived in our apartment just before us.
I invited him inside and we talked for about a half an hour. Quickly we learned that we both have an appreciation for nature and for outdoor activities. He told me that last summer he cycled from Canmore to Banff more than 70 times and I mentioned that I really wanted to get a mountain bike. We agreed to go hiking together sometime and to keep in touch. I thought,
“Bonus! My first friend in this new town.”
Sometimes opportunity literally comes knocking at the door.
We exchanged phone numbers and have kept in touch. We have since gone hiking together.
Here’s how David – a total stranger – unknowingly changed my life.
On September 18th, he kindly sent me this photo of Ultimate Sports in Banff. As I had told him that I was in the market for a new bike, he pointed out to me that rental shops in Canmore and Banff often sell off their inventory at the end or the beginning of their seasons to make room for new equipment. As the bikes are used, they can sell for a good price, and they typically sell quickly.
That same day, we zipped up the road to Banff to see if we could score a deal. They didn’t have my size, but two weeks later (after a number of follow up calls), they did, and my partner and I each bought new (to us)/ used mountain bikes for just under $500 each.
This was so impactful for me because I had been feeling overwhelm at the idea of shopping for a bike in this bike-Mecca that is Canmore. So many questions were going through my head:
“Do I go for single suspension or dual suspension right away?
“How much will I actually use this thing as it’s going to start snowing soon?”
“How much should I spend on this new hobby at this time?”
Questions like this have held me back from starting to participate in a sport or activity that I’ve wanted to join in the past. It had been paralysis by analysis instead of just getting started doing the thing.
But David’s recommendation to check out the deals at the rental shop cleared away that confusion in one fell swoop. This was an answer that would suitably get me into the sport and for a good price. We each purchased an Aspect 960 for just under $500. Between the two of us, doing so saved us several hundred dollars on entry level bikes – which is what we need at this time.
Sometimes you just need a little nudge to try something new. And that nudge can come from a stranger.
We have since been cycling often and it’s been exhilarating. I’m starting cautiously as my first experience on a fat-bake up in the Yukon ended with a few bruises. Interestingly, that visit followed a spontaneous bike trip across Canada with a stranger, but that’s a story for another day.
Why is mountain biking so exhilarating?
- it’s a new sport that I’ve now finally started to participate in
- there are countless trails around my new home to explore at all levels of difficulty
- it’s another way for me to exercise my body which is extremely important to me
- I found my first bike by having a conversation with a stranger
- my touring bike got stolen earlier this year and it’s great to get back in the saddle
- I have now felt the rush from winding down a narrow, winding trail in the mountains challenging my skill level
- it is providing further opportunities for me to meet new people
So that’s how a conversation with a stranger recently changed my life. There’s a very good chance that I would not have gotten past my sense of overwhelm at purchasing a bike this season had I not met David and told him that I was in the market for a mountain bike. Never mind the excitement that I’ve listed above by starting to ride the trails, but consider the physical and mental benefits for me to have this athletic outlet now? As a coach and virtual event producer and facilitator at Neole Inc., I clock my fair share of hours online and welcome the physical activity outdoors.
It’s Time to Change Your Life by Meeting People
Of course, you may not have friendly strangers literally knocking at your door, but my wish is for you to witness just how much good can come from at least being open to connecting with new people. I believe that it is essential for each of us to be open to these opportunities. They create moments of human connection and ripple effects of positivity.
What might you learn through your next conversation with a stranger?
How might you help a person out with your broad life, or business experience and make someone’s day? This is how friendships and meaningful relationships begin and as mentioned at the beginning of this article, those very relationships can actually extend your life. If you’d like to take a deeper look into the science behind that, do an internet search for the term, “Polyvagal Theory” and see what you learn.
I will be forever grateful to David for sharing his local knowledge so willingly and for helping my partner and I get into this amazing sport and more into the culture of this beautiful mountain town. I’ll see you on the trail!
If you would like to explore how you too can change your life by meeting people, book a complimentary 30-minute call with me and we will explore this together. As a Solution-Focused coach, I am sure that we will have an interesting and productive conversation.
Tony Esteves is a virtual event producer and facilitator at Neole Inc, a solution focused coach and a circus performer. Tony is also the author of the book, “Talk2MorePeople: Change Your Life by Meeting people.” He is passionate about spending time in the mountains and creating human connection.