As we seek to build relationships, it is important to remember we are the product of the people we hang out with. I was reminded of this concept at a recent event where I met the marvelous Denise Barakat de Arias from Panama. She immediately caught my attention due to her enthusiasm, obvious thirst for knowledge and friendly nature. During our conversation, Denise said to me, “You are very young.” Flattered, I asked her to “go on!” thanked her for the compliment and suggested that we were probably closer to the same age than she thought.
Here’s the deal: Denise is so youthful looking. I was sure she could not be older than 50, give or take a year or two. Nope. Turns out she is nearly 20 years my senior (and, for the record, I’m not 30)! All I know is that I hope I look half as youthful as she does when I’m her age!
I asked her what her secret was… she called it “empathy.” Now, the dictionary definition of empathy is something like, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” That’s not exactly what Denise meant. Instead, she meant that she takes on the characteristics of others who she admires, in an environment that allows her to do so, and that helps to keep her looking and feeling young. When she went on to better describe this concept, she offered the following thoughts:
- Surround yourself with people who you want to emulate.
- Look for healthy, happy, youthful, exuberant people.
- Seek to be like them.
- Make sure you are in an environment conducive to healthy, happy, youthful exuberance. (She’s in Panama where she and her family operate Canopy Family, a birdwatching and ecotourism company… she says the air is fresh and clean without pollution. Case made.)
- Soak it in!
As for me, I plan to hang out around Denise more often… she has clearly discovered an untapped Fountain of Youth. Who’s up for heading down to Panama with me?