In the 1950s, Roseto, Pennsylvania was settled by a group of Italian families from Roseto, Italy, who re-created their life again in America.
Dr. Stewart Wolf met a physician who practiced in the area in a time before drugs and measures to prevent heart disease became important. In their conversation, the physician said, “You know, I’ve been practicing for 17 years. I get patients from all over, and I rarely find anyone from Roseto under the age of 65 with heart disease.”
This was bizarre because according to Dr. Wolf, it was impossible to be a doctor during this time and not see heart disease.
But that wasn't all...
Dr. Wolf enlisted a sociologist and team to help him investigate the town and they found there were no ulcers, no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. These people were dying of old age. That’s it.
The team checked into diet, genetics, and possibilities of something in the foothills of eastern Pennsylvania but nothing made sense.
What the researchers did find was that Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat in Italian on the street and cooking for one another in their backyards. They found extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They found many homes had three generations living under one roof and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and saw the unifying and calming effect of the church. They counted 22 separate civic organizations in a town of just under 2,000 people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.
What they found eventually convinced the medical establishment to look beyond the individual and understand the culture people are part of — their friends, families, and town they came from.
What they found was that the people we surround ourselves with and the values of the world we inhabit not only have a profound effect on who we are, but also on our health.
Who is your tribe?
What is the effect they have on your life?
Love your friends. Love, your friends.
PS. This story comes from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers which has many more stories like this one. If you like it, you should read it.