The Power of Pack in Life
In the wild, animals are all about strength in numbers. Call it a pack, pod, troop, squad or pride—they all serve the same purpose. Each member unites to protect each other, and in the case of the wolf, if a lone wolf leaves the pack, that wolf usually leads a “difficult, lonely existence, and a constant fight for survival.”
I would argue that we have more in common with wolves than we might think. Without a pack in life, loneliness could kill us… literally. Believe it or not, loneliness is the number one predictor of mortality. In May, a new nationwide survey of 20,000 adults from health insurer Cigna found that “most Americans are considered lonely.” In fact, fifty-four percent of respondents said they sometimes or always feel that no one knows them very well. Loneliness has been called the #1 health epidemic, with a physiological health equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being linked to a high risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and more.
A CAUSE FOR CONCERN
It’s terrifying—and I don’t think any of us set out to be the lone wolf in life, constantly fighting for survival.
“Being socially engaged improves your health, is correlated with higher employment rates and income, and is tied to having purpose and meaning in life. Our closest friends and family are essential for optimal emotional and physical well-being, as well as for our survival as individuals and as a species,” shares Amy Yotopoulos, Director of the Mind Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity.
Call it your pack, tribe, community, or girl gang; they all mean the same thing. And they’re all vital to our happiness.
Dr. William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, explains that the power of the pack provides you with deeper emotional connections: “Friends can provide a listening ear and provide us support. They can also provide more practical help — like giving us a ride when our car breaks down or giving advice. They’re a source of stress relief and support we can go to when we might not be able to go to other people in our lives.”
FRIENDSHIP IS VITAL
No matter how you slice it, the takeaway is clear and probably super obvious — your pack is your people who help you live safely. While doing so, they help you live a more fulfilled life.
“The effects of friendship on health and happiness has been demonstrated in over 100 different cultures and at nearly every point in the lifespan,” Chopik says.
My pack has helped me survive some really pivotal and challenging times in my life. Like when I quit my job to start a company, I was suddenly overwhelmed with fear and self-doubt, and almost quit before I began. I didn’t know where to go, which idea to choose, and I was convinced I had to go to an expensive coding bootcamp if I wanted to be taken seriously. I was able to turn to my friends though, talk through my ideas, talk through where I hoped to go, and create a plan to build something great… without making the mistake of heading in the wrong direction and letting imposter syndrome get the best of me. Or when I found myself suddenly going through a divorce last year, I can’t even imagine how much more devastated, lost (and homeless) I would have been without the support and generosity of my friends!
While some of us might feel weird or embarrassed to admit we’re in a packless state (I know, I’ve been there, too), and the thought of asking for help in the friend-making process seems more than awkward, it’s time for us to speak up. Yes, as great as marathons of ANTM or binging through an entire season of Netflix’s latest, we need to acknowledge that using tech like Hey! VINA to discover the amazing community of potential new friends around you is not only a no-brainer, but it’s the smartest way to take control of your future. The law of averages tells us we’re the 5 people we spend the most amount of time with, so you better not be leaving that up to fate!
In creating Hey! VINA, I’ve made it my mission to help women around the world find their pack. So far, we have connected millions of girl gangs — including roommates, travel partners, bridesmaids, business partners, and more — but I know my work isn’t done yet. I won’t stop until I know there are no more lone wolves fighting for survival.
“It is so difficult for Americans to be vulnerable enough to start being 100% honest with friends, or to ask for help,” Yotopoulos notes. “But the miracle is once you lower your guard, and admit that, ‘I can’t do this alone and I need you,’ then you know who will show up for you. And it feels so good to be able to lean on someone else, just as good as it feels to be there when your friend needs you.”
I’ve always believed that one friend can change your life. Now imagine, if you had a whole pack of friends behind you? Now, that’s power.
Olivia June is the founder & CEO of Hey! VINA, the social discovery app for females. She’s obsessed with meeting new friends, connecting people, social psychology, and is passionate about empowering women around the world. She wants to help everyone live their best lives, and most importantly, have a lot of fun getting there! Follow her at @heyoliviajune.