The Power of Resilience: Overcoming Adversity With Dr. Sharon Bannister

What if the key to navigating life’s unanticipated storms lies not just in physical strength, but in the resilience of the mind? Dr. Sharon Bannister is a retired Air Force Major General who’s spent her career harnessing the power of resilience. Drawing parallels between military and civilian life, our conversation delves into the necessity of adaptability, mental strength, and the art of preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Dr. Bannister encourages us to step out of our comfort zones, embrace new experiences, and always be ready to lend a helping hand. She reminds us that every action, no matter how small, is vital in cultivating a sense of community and resilience. This conversation is not just about survival, but about how we can better build community, navigate big life transitions, and thrive in the face of adversity.

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Key Moments
“So what are those things that you’re doing for yourself that make you more resilient when bad things happen?”

“To me, one of the interesting aspects about the military is this idea of adaptability. We can sort of control how we think and how we prepare, but we need to be adaptable to circumstances. In that line of work you never know what’s going to happen, right?”

“I think that it would be easy to sit in your house and worry, and worry, and worry. I think that it’s a lot more productive to get out and go do something a little bit different to keep you moving.”

Get in touch with Dr. Bannister


David: 0:17

Welcome to SuperAge. My name is David Stewart. I am the founder of Ageist and your host on the SuperAge show. We talk about how to live healthier, how to live longer and how to be happier and who doesn’t want that? Today’s show is brought to you by InsideTracker the dashboard to your inner health. Go to insidetracker. com. Slash ageist. Save 20% on all their products. Today’s show is also brought to you by Element LMNT, my favorite electrolyte mix. It’s what I put in my water in the morning and it’s what I put in my water at the gym. Go to drinkelementcom slash ageist and receive a free eight serving sample pack with any purchase. Today’s show is also brought to you by SRW. Aging is inevitable, but how we age is chiefly a matter of our choices. If you go to SRWco, you can save 20% on all their products by using the code AGEIST20 at checkout. Welcome to episode 149 of the SuperAge podcast. It’s great to have you with us. This is going to be dropping on August, the 30th 2023. Normally, when we record the podcast, we’ll often record the guest a little earlier and then I do this intro bit that you’re listening to right now, a day or so before the podcast drops. But this week I’m actually doing this a few days before, on August the 26th. The reason for that is next week, on the 29th, which is a Tuesday, and we dropped the podcast on a Wednesday I will be having surgery on my knee. So I’m having orthoscopic surgery on my knee to do something called a clean out, which sounds sort of worse than it is it’s actually. I have a couple of tears in the meniscus of my left knee which have been there for a while, like I don’t know 10 or 12 years. I can either just leave it alone when, which basically means don’t use my knee, or get it fixed. But these are not things that at least my medical folks are telling me. These are not sort of things that heal on their own. So thus we have to have them scoped and I’m hoping I’ve been told anyway the recovery on this, you know, I have to sort of be still for a couple of days, but in a week I can probably go to the gym and they’re telling me, full recovery four to six weeks. It’s not a big deal, but it is a surgery. So surgeries are surgeries. We need to be mindful of that. So, in any case, this intro is being recorded a little earlier than normal and because of that I am in Hawaii. I’ll be flying to Park City, utah, early tomorrow morning, but at the moment I’m still here in a certain version of heaven, I guess, at the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki, which I got to say. I think I’ve stayed in pretty much all the big hotels in Waikiki over the years and there’s no comparison. The is the best. One is one of the best hotels in the world as far as I’m concerned. So I’m very happy to be here this week. On the show we have Dr Sharon Bannister. Sharon is just like a world of accomplishments. So she was in the Air Force and she was a major general in the Air Force, which is a big deal. For instance, she was director of medical operations for the Air Force, a substantial organization with billions of dollars under her management and a huge team. She was actually trained as a dentist and she was a command surgeon for air combat command and just like a whole slew of fascinating accomplishments in the Air Force. So we’re going to talk to Sharon about a few things that military folks know a little bit about, one of which is this idea of resilience. And if there’s one thing you need to be in the military, it is resilient, and I think that this is something we can all learn a lot from. And I want to also speak to her about this idea of transition and we’ve had one other person, I believe, who was fairly high level military on the show and talking about this idea of how, like, how do you transition from something like being a major general to not being a major general? And how does one nurture adaptability, how does one deal with all these new things? And you know one of the things about being in the military, at least what military folks have told me you’re in a constant state of adaptability, and I love this. I think this is something we can all learn a lot from. So we’re going to bring on Dr Sharon Bannister in just a quick moment, after a word from our professor. Hydration is not just about pounding water. We have to have some electrolytes in there, specifically sodium, potassium and magnesium. My favorite electrolyte mix, the one that I use every day, is element LMNT. You know, one of the things that I learned last year was the importance of sodium. We may actually not be getting enough sodium and I know there was a lot of sodium fear out there. And it’s true if you have hypertension or prehypertensive you do want to check with your doctor. But for most of us, having sodium actually helps us to absorb water and, in fact, drinking straight water without any minerals in it we will be pulling the electrolytes out of our system. Go to drinklmnt.com slash ages, that’s D-R-I-N-K-L-M-N-T.com slash ageist. Get a free eight serving sample pack with your next order. My favorite one is citrus salt. What’s yours, let me know. Today’s show is also brought to you by Inside Tracker, the dashboard to your inner health. I’m a big believer in getting blood tests taken because it’s simply the only way to get in-depth data about your metabolic factors, your hormones and the things that inform your immediate and long-term health. There are also excellent DNA tests that can further inform you about your immediate and long-term health. The problem is the most blood tests out there is. You get a lot of information back and you get a lot of numbers and they’re not really going to tell you what to do about it. In addition, they can be very confusing. What all the factors are, what they mean. Inside Tracker has a dashboard and a platform that simplifies all of that. I get food first, supplements second, recommendations about how to optimize my inner health. For instance, I just got my test back and I saw that my calcium levels were a little low, which were surprising to me, but I have suggestions now about how to correct that. I would not have known that had I not done an Inside Tracker blood test. Go to insidetrackercom. Slash ageist, save 20% on all their products. Today, right after my conversation with Dr Sharon Bannister, we’re going to do just try this, that little fortune cookie of information to help all of us live a little healthier, little happier and maybe a little longer. So stay tuned for that. After my conversation with Dr Bannister, we’re going to give her a shout right now. Hey Sharon, how are you today? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 7:10

I’m doing great. How are you doing? 

David: 7:13

I’m wonderful, I want to say. You are a major general in the Air Force, recently retired, but you are the first major general that we’ve had on the show, so I feel very honored. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 7:23

Well, thanks. I feel very honored to be here. I’ve seen people that you’ve interviewed in the past, and it is an illustrious group of people. 

David: 7:30

None more than you. I can tell you, I’ve seen the list of decorations and accomplishments. It’s really impressive. I thought it would be interesting today to talk a little bit about something that you know a lot about, which is resilience. And, of course, in the military, you want resilient airmen and soldiers, you want resilient organizations, and I think, as a human being, we need to be resilient, especially as we’re confronted with change and those things. So talk to me a little bit about what does resilience mean to you? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 8:04

Well, that’s always a complex question because I think resiliency can go in many different ways. To me, it is how are you taking care of yourself? So, when the stresses in life come to you whether that’s a deployment or having to work during the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that missions are still able to go through we couldn’t all lock ourselves in the house and just hope somebody else was taking care of things. We had to figure out how to do that, and I would say that understanding yourself. For everybody it’s going to be a little different. For me, resilience means getting in my exercise, making sure I’m outside, that I get some sunlight during the day, that I take time to breathe, try to remember to eat. There have been days where I had a small breakfast and all of a sudden it’s five o’clock or six o’clock in the evening and I realized that, oh, I at least have drank water but not had much food. So what are those things that you’re doing for yourself that make you more resilient when bad things happen? Sleep it can be either very advantageous or it can be very detrimental if you’re not getting any. And some of the missions that we have you think of our pilots in the Air Force, and I say we. I guess it’s now they, since I’m retired, but they need to be at the top of their game. They need to be watching what’s going on around them, and I think you’ve been there too. If you haven’t had enough sleep or you haven’t gotten an exercise or you’re not eating well, that really impacts your ability to handle normal life stresses. 

David: 9:50

To me. One of the interesting things I think about the military is this idea of adaptability. So you know, we can sort of control how we think and how we prepare, but we need to be adaptable to circumstances. In that line of work you never know what’s going to happen, right? Talk to me about that intersection between resilience and adaptability. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 10:14

I believe you can be adaptable. If you think about the training you’re doing and I don’t want to get too military, but in the medical field, as I was responsible for medical operations for the Air Force and supporting the Space Force as well if you exercise, what may happen that can be bad you tend to be more adaptable. For example, part of our normal activities in making sure that we’re a ready medical force is having mass casualty exercises and we’ll work with the local community so that you can think about okay, if X-many people are hurt, how many can we handle internally? How many might we need to air a vac out? How many might we need to send out an ambulance? You have to practice that and I believe that the more realistic you can make it, the better it’s going to be for our airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines that get caught in these situations later and have to adapt to be able to make that work. So we do things like moulash. So instead of just having plastic dummies, we’ll have live people and we’ll be able to moulash their arms so it looks like they have lacerations or they’re bleeding, and you can make sounds and smoke so that they get the feeling and the stimulus of what might happen in a real contingency operation. 

David: 11:41

I recall that one of the Stoics used to say you just sort of want to imagine what’s the worst possible outcome and sort of imagine that, and once you’re okay with that, everything else is okay. Is that us people who are not in the military? We don’t deal with mass casualties and bleeding, Thankfully, but we deal with other things that are. Something may happen and in our minds we can really get spun out about it. How does the military version of resilience and adaptability, how does that transfer out to civilians like me? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 12:26

Well, I think that we have to think through what’s important in our lives. If you’re a cyclist, I think, as you’re cycling especially if it’s not on a trail and it’s out on a street you have to think about hmm, if a car is racing around this curve and I’m closer to the center of the lane instead of off to the side hopefully there’s a bike lane what am I going to do? In the back of my head? I should be thinking about those things in advance, and if you’re always thinking about what is the next thing that could potentially happen, your mind races to a point where it’s not a surprise for you. One thing that everybody does is has to move or go to new schools and military children like my own, my daughter, had three assignments to San Antonio. They were all at different times in her life. Well, she had to figure out what it was like to make new friends in new places. You go, and in today’s world, it’s not just the military that moves. Everybody, everybody moves, whether it’s a new job. A lot of times in our generation, when we were growing up, you’re like no, I’m going to make this work. This job might suck and it’s not what I really want to do, but I’m going to stay with it for the next 30 years and then get a pen at the end. And the generations today say, no way, if I’m not loving where I am, guess what? I’m going to look for something else. And they think about that. What does it mean to go to a new job and have to reprove yourself and be able to develop in that organization? They’re learning how to interact and go in. And how do you make new friends? How do you find out what the mission is? And I think that some of that is aided in a lot of our social media. You can find almost anything you want online now. So what are you doing with your spare time? Are you playing Candy Crush or are you reading? Are you trying to broaden your scope of knowledge to make you a little bit more comfortable in situations that before you might think you are not? 

David: 14:41

Yes, okay. So that’s a form of preparedness, so that’s a form of training. You say I was in a, say I’m like 55 or was in a job for some amount of time and then I’m suddenly they don’t want me anymore and I’m out. What’s the mental game that I need to play to keep myself from spiraling into some kind of depression about this and to keep myself moving forward? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 15:02

Well, I think part of it is not being alone, and you said 55, I’ll say 57, because I just transitioned out of a 31 year career where I never had to look for my next job every year or two years. They would move me and I would go and I would do it. It wasn’t interviewing, it wasn’t putting my resume together, it wasn’t networking. It just happened. And now I’m in a new world. So how do I prepare for that? It’s interaction with other people, it’s networking. It’s getting out there and having breakfast, lunch and dinners or going for walks with people that might have different perspectives than you do. I think that it would be easy to sit in your house and worry, and worry, and worry. I think that it’s a lot more productive to get out and go do something a little bit different to keep you moving, and we already talked about being outside. It could be as easy as going to Pilates in the middle of the day and instead of saying oh my gosh, I have no job, say, oh my gosh, it’s awesome being able to work out at noon versus four am in the morning. So I think you have to consciously, in the back of your head, start thinking about the positives of items instead of the negative. There’s actually been research to say that if, at the end of the day, you have a journal and you have to write it, it’s not enough to think it and you write down three good things that happened during that day. At the end of the month, there’s been research that shows that you’re actually a more positive person, and I find that fascinating. I think it would be really easy for us to write down three good things and three bad things, but why get the good things? And then, when you’re having those times during your life where you’re feeling a little down, flip back. What are the things that make you happy? And I’m happy to say that about half of mine were work related and half of them were family, and sometimes it was just oh, we had a great rain today and I went for a long walk with an umbrella, which I absolutely love to do. So I think you have to work on resiliency as part of your human being, who you are, because it’s easy to get caught up in not feeling good enough or feeling like in some way, you’re failing, whereas you can look back and say, wait, I’m not. I’ve got a lot to give. Volunteer. There’s so much to do in our communities that you can get out. I am the docent at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and I get there at 7 o’clock on Sunday mornings and sometimes it’s all international people walking through, but sometimes I’m just sitting there looking at the way the sun rises and reflects on the reflecting pool in Washington DC. It’s so interesting to get out and try to see things in a way that you don’t see when you’re in the four walls of your house. 

David: 18:05

What I’m hearing you say is a few things here. In reviewing, we want to push back on our negativity bias, because that just will overwhelm us, and focus on the positive, which is something my wife and I do every night. We just like tell me what’s the best thing that happened to you today and we talk about that and we ask you the question. It’s nice to go to sleep, but then, in terms of preparedness, we need a certain amount of not so much head in the sand, understanding the changes happen and we need to be ready and adaptable without obsessing about whatever the negative outcome could happen and, as part of that, embracing novelty, bringing new things into our life and it sounds as though bringing more new things into our lives and expanding our world actually expands our resilience. Did I get that right? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 18:56

Absolutely. I also think you have to concentrate on the things you can change, yeah, and you have to have a conversation, whether it’s with your spouse, whether it’s with your best friend or whether it’s just with yourself. Is this something that I can do anything about? And if the answer is no, then you’ve got to move on. What’s something else that you can change in your life that will counterbalance that? Because you can’t change what you can’t change. 

David: 19:21

Exactly, and stay away from the Twitter response button. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 19:26

Yes, absolutely. 

David: 19:29

That might not get you where you want to go. You know we’re talking a lot about a lot of physical preparedness in the world that you came from, for obvious reasons, but let’s talk a little bit about mental health. We had a little chat offline beforehand how younger people embrace mental health in a very different way than we did. It’s like, oh, I’m going to my therapist. They might as well be telling me they’re going to the dentist, which, oh my gosh, Talk to me a little bit about that in the world you came from and where you are now. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 20:00

Yeah, this is a balance. I think we in the military tried to destigmatize mental health care for years, which I absolutely think is the right thing. There are people that need help during their lives, that feel overwhelmed with activities that are happening in their life that they might need some help, and sometimes that’s professional Sometimes it’s talking to your chaplain or sometimes it’s having a good friend to be able to talk through things but sometimes you do need that extra help. I agree with you. We did not grow up in that same way. We problem and this is going to come off differently than I wanted to, but we had a problem solve in ways that sometimes people growing up today don’t. It’s a lot more common in today’s world to have children doing lots of different activities, going from sports to getting up in the morning, doing sports, going to school all day, after school, also doing more sports, doing some homework at night and the days gone, and so you’re with somebody at all times. When I was growing up, it was not unusual. I’ve already shared that my sister and I grew up with just a mom because my dad was lost early in our lives and we had a lot of time alone. I mean, we got all kinds of trouble, so we would go out after school. My mom wasn’t home from work yet and a lot of times we’d be coming home when, when the sun went down, with absolutely no supervision. So when we went away to school, we had been pretty independent for a long, a long time. And I’m not saying our children aren’t independent today. I’m just saying that they have a lot more people around them that can help them if they’re feeling overwhelmed, and we have to look at that. It’s a different model. So sometimes, when we have people come in the military and they’re coming right out of high school, I, as a leader, want to be a little bit more compassionate. I want to be more approachable. I want, you know, I was scared to death of people that were had two stars on their on their shoulder, and I also thought they were very old. I do not feel that I’m really old right now, but but I wouldn’t have, wouldn’t have felt comfortable approaching people, and so my leadership style had to change. I wanted to be there for people to talk to through some of their problems, or you know, when you’re walking through the hall, instead of just saying, hey, how are you, how was your weekend and you keep walking before anybody ever had a chance to answer the question, taking a little bit more time to try to read people and understand if they’re going through something. And that change it’s not just in the military, it’s going to be in the workplace, it’s going to be in sports and athletics, it’s going to be everywhere you are and you have to be cognizant of that. I think I grew up very insular, taking care of my own problems and and if I wasn’t feeling good, sometimes I would escape to nowhere land with nobody around me. And you know, maybe I was a little bit more resilient, but but maybe I wasn’t. Maybe maybe I spent too much time worrying about things that I, that I couldn’t change, where, if I had somebody to interact with, I might have felt a little bit more comfortable. So I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I would say, and where we worked before I retired, we were working on targeted mental health care, trying to figure out, okay, what is your problem and then trying to target them to the place that can help them the best. And that’s not somebody that’s a licensed psychiatrist, it might be a social worker, it might be a chaplain, it might be what we call a first sergeant, but basically somebody that’s helping out with the unit, and I think that’s something we have to look at going forward to, because we definitely are at a shortage of mental health professionals across the nation. 

David: 24:08

It’s one of the things that I so much enjoy about working with younger people. Their attitude towards taking care of themselves is very, very different than ours. We’re speaking about mental health issues, and I know that for some people transitions can be very difficult, very disorienting and red. It’s especially acute. So if you’re in the military, and especially if you’re going to combat role, going from that to not that can be really hard, and I don’t mean as a criticism military at all, I’m just that’s a radical jump and sometimes that’s really hard for people to adapt and they don’t make it. But I think this is also through society. There can be massive disruptions in our lives. We’re moving from one reality to another and and it’s really hard. What are your thoughts on that? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 25:00

Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve deployed a couple times during my career and one thing I noticed when you’re deployed is you have a group of people that are all checking your six all the time somebody that’s that that can read when you’re not doing well, especially when you’re deployed because you’re working seven days a week and you’re a close little family. When you return, not everybody understands what you had to experience while you were deployed. We see some reintegration with families. That is a little difficult sometimes because some people won’t necessarily want to talk about what they did while they were deployed. And we have spent a lot more effort in the military working on those transition times, having touch points with medical people to talk through. How are you doing, how is your sleep, because sometimes people won’t even recognize that they’re not being themselves. I think community is important and we can say it’s important in the military. It’s interesting for for me I never said I worked for the Air Force. I was in the Air Force, I was part of the family and even when I moved to a new base and maybe didn’t know anybody, I was immediately part of a family. So what are we doing in today’s world to create that where people feel like they have that community and think of the world of telework right now. I mean some of these young people graduating college. They may only be going to work two days a week, three days a week. Some people are permanent telework. How are they creating that, that community where somebody’s going to know if they’re not, if they’re not doing well? I think we have to be more purposeful. I’ve seen my daughter graduated college last year and she’s working downtown DC and they go in Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and they telework Monday and Friday and they’re on Zoom calls where they don’t have their cameras muted. I mean, how many zoom calls have you been on where all you see is somebody’s initial or their picture? it’s like wait, that’s not a zoom call, I can’t. I can’t get eyes on you, you’ve got to put on your camera. But they’re able to. They’re more comfortable doing those meetings. But the other thing is when they go into work, their boss is intentionally scheduling connectivity activities, whether it’s a happy hour at night or playing kickball on the National Mall or having recognition recognition events on their rooftop of their building. Those are important. That’s what makes that community, so that when things maybe aren’t exactly right in your life, you can, number one, reach out to people. But even if you don’t, somebody can recognize that in you. I think that we as organizations in the military we get quite a bit of training, but what are we doing to recognize those changes in somebody’s activity and get them sent in the right place to help them out? 

David: 28:24

I think one of the things from any work. You get recognition in various forms, you get promotion, you get paid, there are various things. So you feel you have agency in the world and you also have, as you said, a community run. There’s camaraderie, and really heightened in the military, especially during deployment. It’s common in really all work situations. So if that is removed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and suddenly one doesn’t have those like we’re not playing kickball on the ball today, what’s your advice to people to get that back and possibly not in a work situation? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 29:04

We have lots of conversations and again, how does this translate to our communities? It is an interesting question, but you have to figure out for yourself. And it’s better to have the conversations about resiliency when there aren’t things wrong. So how are we approaching people whether it’s in education, whether it’s in job places on talking about resiliency when things are good. So what are the normal things you can do? We talk about work-life balance. I mean, that’s a topic that’s pretty common in workplaces and communities where you can find groups to have conversations about these before they happen. We used to in the military. If somebody got a DUI, you would send them to a class talking about alcohol abuse. Well, wouldn’t you rather talk about alcohol abuse before somebody has that problem? Or raising teenagers okay, they’ve had a problem in the house with being able to be a strong parent, a strong, resilient parent. So we’ll send you to a class about it. Well, let’s not do that. Let’s talk to everybody before they’re having children. Maybe you offer that as part of the OB care as you’re going in to start it when you first get pregnant. Let’s talk about how you’re gonna feel. Let’s connect you with a community that’s going to be feeling these same things at the same time. You’re feeling and try to get ahead of those bad things that could potentially happen. I mean, most things that happen in life are pretty predictable. You go through a transition. When you get a new job, it’s pretty predictable that you’re going to feel bad for a while. You’re gonna be nervous about finances, you’re gonna be worried about your self-worth If that was part of your work, was part of your self-worth, and now you don’t have that. How are you proactively thinking about that? And a lot of organizations will have that transition assistant General officers. We have to go through a transition assistant program. Some of it’s basic, where they’re helping you with figuring out what a resume is supposed to look like and you can’t wear your uniform shoes with like a regular suit. People are gonna laugh at you those things that you have to learn as you’re transitioning into the new world. So we talk about those things that people are going to struggle with and I think it helps. But I think also, knowing that the feelings that you’re having in whatever situation it is, if you know they’re not unique, then you also know you’re gonna get through it. So I think that always being proactive in things that could potentially happen will help you. 

David: 31:59

This idea of resilience and preparedness. So, just as if you’re gonna ride your bike near the median, you need to understand like things may happen quickly and you’re gonna have to react. So we have things like insurance policies for various things because we think bad things may happen, and what I’m hearing you say is that building community around you in as many forms as you can because there will be a disruption. Something is gonna happen your work, your family, your health, something that’s gonna be a disruption. I absolutely guarantee it. So how are you prepared for that in all these different ways? Do you have people around you that you can talk to? Are you physically prepared? If your spouse has some kind of illness or something, you have to take care of them, you need to be physically prepared to be able to carry them or move them around, Whatever you need to do. Do you have that capacity? You need to be prepared in that way and you need financial preparedness and all of these things. To me, that’s what I’m hearing you. When you talk about resilience, I think the one that is easiest for us guys and probably I’m just gonna say like ex-military folk are the stuff that we can put numbers next to. Kpi is really good at that. But the soft stuff how many people do I have out there that I can talk to? Who’s counting on me? Like, am I going to the bowling league on Tuesday and I got a goal because they count on me? Now that might sound silly, but I think that that stuff is really important. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 33:34

I absolutely agree and you alluded to it earlier, but obviously we have a huge suicide problem in our country. If people feel valued and respected and needed needed they’re less likely to take that route. And I was shocked. We did suicide training every year. I sat in with a young group of airmen one day and I said okay, how many of you, when you’re faced with a really hard problem, have suicide as a solution to that problem? And I was shocked that almost everybody raised their hand and I’m sure my face showed it and they said but, but, but it’s not high on my list, but it’s something out there. And I guess I was just struck by not realizing that that is, and one of the real young, I think she was 18, she said well, she said, ma’am, she goes, you watch TV People. You know this happens sometimes if people have really bad things happen in their lives. And I said, well, some of that is TV and to make a show. But I said I’m concerned that that’s on a list. And she goes yeah, but that could be number 100. And she said I think we’re aware that suicide is in the world and I just found that. I found that very interesting. I don’t think we talked much about it when I was growing up. I don’t know that. I knew one person in our high school and you heard like little bits and pieces, but we never had a big conversation about it. So I think you have to think about that. If somebody is withdrawing and they’re not feeling valued, you know how are you? making everybody in your community feel valued to your point of a bowling. If somebody doesn’t show up and you don’t know why with that group, check on that person. 

David: 35:46


Dr. Sharon Bannister: 35:47

I think we are in a world that’s enough mentally attuned that if something doesn’t seem right, we tend to press more, not like, well, how are you doing on time? And let it go. I think we’re more willing to have those hard conversations with people and you mentioned the word valued. 

David: 36:04

I’m thinking that in terms of hard things, deployment where there’s somebody out there who may want you dead, would seem to be like a hard thing. But you are valued because you’re part of a unit. I don’t know any statistics on this. I would guess that the suicide rates of people on deployment are very low compared to non-deployment or exiting because there’s not that sense of value. The word I use all the time is usefulness, like how useful are you? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 36:34

Yeah, now I would agree. I mean, there have been suicides. Obviously that can happen in deployed locations, but I agree with you. I think you’re more likely when you’re all alone to have those issues that arise. I think we as a nation need to work on that better. How do you make people feel valued? You talked earlier about promotions or awards for making somebody feel good. That’ll happen maybe once every three years, potentially, if ever. So how are you just thanking people? and realizing that the work that they’re doing is significant. We talk a lot. You’ve talked to a lot of strong females on your podcast in the past and how do you make somebody in, say, a boardroom that is traditionally all men and now you have a female? How do you make that person feel like they’re not just there for tokenism, but more there because what they say matters Like I was the first in a lot of things. I was the first dental core chief that was a female. I was the first dental general that was a female. I was the first air combat command surgeon who was a female. I don’t want to be the first, but I want to make sure that people aren’t saying, oh, she did that because she’s a female. I want them to see me. What does she bring to the table? That’s different, and then it’s fine. And she also happens to be female, if that makes sense. So sometimes I think we have to think about that. If you feel like you’re a little bit different in the world, how are you making that person feel like they’re valued because of their diversity in that group? Because you make that group stronger, because you’re there, and that’s in everything we do. Because if that person feels valued, they’re a lot more likely to be more resilient when things go up and down. They won’t feel like they’re alone. 

David: 38:45

I think that’s all of our responsibility as human beings. I think that we have a responsibility to acknowledge each other, just this simple act of salespeople are all trained to. The way you make an empathetic connection is you repeat back to the person what they just said? I understood that. You said this. Did I get that right? Ok, so now they know that you’re paying attention and you understand what’s going on. And the way I get in trouble with my wife is that she’ll tell me something and I’ll say, yeah, that’s great, honey, and then I’ll ask her about it five minutes later Did you do that thing? And she’ll be like I just told you about it, you weren’t listening. So that’s a bad one. I think that this idea of acknowledging people and asking them how you’re doing because I think in the situation that you’re describing, if you have a room of 10 or 12 people and they’re all the same and there’s one person who’s not, I’ve actually been on the other side of that, where I’ve been the only guy in a room with 12 women who were talking about stuff that they really know about thinking like how I would want someone to respond to me. It would be like tell us, what do you think about that, what’s your view on that? And then, outside of the room, how are you doing? What was your day like? What’s on your plate? That’s hard for you, asking those questions which you and I are of a generation that. That’s not what we were programmed to do. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 40:00


David: 40:01

We’re better human beings if we do it. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 40:03

Right, oh, absolutely. And I just look at the connection between myself and my children compared to kind of how I felt with my mom and my mom was a wonderful person, but I didn’t have deep conversations about life with my mom. I just didn’t say that. That was something that I figured out on my own and I took both of my girls to see Barbie and we had lots of conversations about their thoughts and, of course, then we went to Oppenheimer. So we’re good, we’re trying to balance our different movies out there, but I think having some of these hard conversations with people that might have been the past and taboo, let’s have the conversations. People realize they’re not alone, they realize that they actually have some value. To your point. I’m being the only man in the room, my husband retired Army special forces, so you have to put things. He’s a green beret. Put things in perspective. 

David: 41:02

We know that type. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 41:03

I’m medical. Well, when he retired and we moved down to Langley Air Force Base, all of a sudden he was the spouse of a two star general. And so he did all these spouse events and it was just hilarious and they loved him because it was an added dimension of something they hadn’t had with their group before, and we’re still absolutely amazing friends with the group that we were down there and that’s a group that actually embraced that. They made him feel important. It would have been really easy for them to say, oh, he’s never going to want to come to RT, although it usually involved wine, which he was all about. So I think that you have to be asked and we need to be better about inviting people to the table, because they’re probably the ones that need it the most. 

David: 41:53

So I think there are two sides to that. There’s one ask, and if you’re asked, say yes, yes, be easy to help. I mean, I tell people and it’s especially like a guy thing, guys, it’s so hard to help them and just be easy to help. If somebody’s offering to help you, even if you’re fully capable of doing whatever it is, just say yes anyway, because the value here is the connection you’re making with that person. Yeah, you can take the garbage out. Fine, if they want to help you, say yes and you’ve made that connection. And I think that this idea of resilience and community and accountability there’s two sides of it right, it’s like for ourselves we need to be able to do that but also for everyone else, so the people in our lives, even peripherally in our lives. We’re not invisible, like we have impact. What we say, what we do, matters and to keep that in mind, yeah, it’s funny about you saying you know, just say yes. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 42:53

I think sometimes the easy thing is to say oh, they’re just asking me, they don’t really want me to go, go. What’s the worst thing? 

David: 42:58

that can happen. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 43:00

It’s a two hour dinner, just go Do. We have a great time. Maybe the only time you go, but at least try. And so I think that it’s just like at work. I mean, we were always told you know you have one chance to say no, so try to say yes. It’s amazing Some of the good things that happen in life if you just take people up on it. 

David: 43:22

And like it’s not our business why they’re inviting us. Exactly who cares? It’s not our job to get inside their heads and figure out why they’re doing what they’re doing. Your job is to say yes. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 43:37

Yeah, just say yes, but yeah, go with the flow, and I think that that’s how you develop that community to your point Not just a work community, not just a church community, not just a bowling community, not just a sports club community, but a community as a whole. And sometimes step out. I invite people to hot yoga all the time and sometimes I get friends that come and they’re like, yeah, I’m never coming back and that’s okay. But I got them there once, and so stepping out of your comfort zone forces you into situations where you learn how to adapt. 

David: 44:15

And again before you have the problem Right. That’s right. That’s right. I mean, I think of this as all these overlapping circles of community and the more of those you have. If one drops away, you’ve got the other 10. And it’s good. I’m around guys all the time and they get this resistance all the time. Well, what am I going to get out of it? Like they’re not like me or they do this different thing, they’re different than me, why would I go there? That’s the whole point, dude, you want that? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 44:43

Right out. And oh, by the way, even if you don’t know what they can do for you, you might be able to do something for them, and that gets you to follow you. 

David: 44:52

Exactly so. Thank you so much for saying that, because that’s the other thing is that each time you say yes and you go somewhere, it’s not about you. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 45:05

You can actually help somebody else. 

David: 45:07

Them. How can you help? How can you contribute? So the trick, the social hack on that, is you go up to whoever’s throwing the party and you say how can I help you Make yourself useful in the kitchen? Just start doing stuff and you’re going to feel comfortable, you’re going to feel like you’ve contributed, you’re going to feel good about yourself, you’re going to feel good about the other people and I think that’s the trick to like sort of a lot of the social navigation that if you get out of that mode it’s not about me, it’s about what I can contribute. You’re going to have a really good experience. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 45:38

Absolutely, or be the one that stays and helps clean up. 

David: 45:41


Dr. Sharon Bannister: 45:42

I mean, you’d be amazed at what somebody will do for you if you do those things that make a huge impact in other people’s lives. 

David: 45:48

Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know what we were supposed to talk about today, but I Resiliency. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 45:54

Don’t you already feel better? I do. 

David: 45:58

I feel more resilient just having this conversation. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 46:01

Yeah, and, like I said, everybody’s a little bit different on what’s going to make them the most comfortable. I’d say you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and truly be resilient, but you also need to know those things that make you really happy and resilient inside. I have to work out, I have to get some sleep, I have to get some sun and if you do those things, it’s amazing how much better you can handle those things that don’t fit in that realm of comfort. 

David: 46:32

Yeah, 100%. Sleep is a superpower. You’ll know it when you don’t have it. Sharon, is there anything you want to leave people with today? You have this vast amount of knowledge, all these accomplishments in the military. Is there anything you want to tell people? 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 46:46

Well, I just would like to say, if you are somebody that has a military close to you, find some of these young single airmen that are or soldier, sailors, marines Now we have guardians for space floors Ask them to join a community item. A lot of times we’re coming in, we’re spending a couple of years and we’re leaving. It’s really nice to be included in a community. So please reach out to them. You might be helping their resilience and when they go and have to deploy to keep our world a safer place, they might remember that you’re that person at home that is thinking about them and appreciating what they’re doing. 

David: 47:27

That’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for saying that. I really appreciate that. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 47:32

Well, I appreciate getting invited and, again, you’re absolutely on the right track on making people feel valued, not only because of age, but just because of who they are, and so I think this fits well, really well, into the efforts that you’re doing as well. 

David: 47:50

Thank you so much and good luck with your transition. Wherever you end up going, I’m sure you’re going to be a superstar, wherever it is. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 47:56

Well, I appreciate you saying that you know what I’m doing. I’m taking some time off. Sometimes we need that as well. 

David: 48:01

Also true. Yes, very much so. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 48:04

But thanks for the connection and thanks for the great conversation today. 

David: 48:07

Thanks so much for being here, sharon. Take care now. 

Dr. Sharon Bannister: 48:09

All right, take care. 

David: 48:11

That was great Major General US Air Force, which is a big deal. My dad was in the Army Reserves when I was growing up and he was a full colonel and I remember the sort of attention he used to get and I can only imagine, if you’re a major general walking around an ear base, the sort of response that you get from the other folks there. I’m a big fan of military folks and people who serve their country and I think that you know, whenever possible, we give them, do attention and do respect for what they’ve done, and we can learn a lot from them. We’re going to get on with just try this in just a moment. After a quick word from our sponsor, today’s show is brought to you by SRW Laboratories out of New Zealand. Their vision is to extend human health span. Srw Labs curates the very latest in science and research to formulate premium nutraceuticals that support your cellular health, especially as you age. Working with their scientific advisory board, they seek to understand and address the causes of aging at a cellular level, providing support across 12 bodily systems with an approach that is unique to SRW. And we know that doing one thing well, such as eating healthily, won’t have the desired effect on your health. This is why SRW seeks to educate people on the factors that influence aging and, more importantly, biological age. Use the code AGIST20 at checkout and save 20% off any order. Go to SRWcoconotcom. Use the code AGIST20 at checkout, save 20% on all their products this week on Just Try this. I’ve got a quick, easy suggestion for how we eat. I’ve been really focusing the last few years on the negative effects of glucose spikes and insulin resistance, and so many bad things come from this, and one of the simple, easy things to do is to eat more fiber. So we always eat more fiber so you can poop better. Essentially, well, it’s a lot more than that. It helps your gut biome because your gut loves fiber, but it also slows down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. So if you start your meal with something that’s really fibrous I’m just going to make this up so like celery sticks or salad or something like that, do that before you go for the bread. I’m not a bread hater, but you want to make sure you have something in your stomach to buffer that before you eat that. So today’s suggestion on Just Try this add some fiber, eat some plants, eat some legumes, things like that, and that’s going to really help you even out your blood sugar. I find if I have some chickpeas I know it’s sort of an odd thing to have, but if you have some chickpeas with your breakfast in the morning, I find I don’t get hungry for like several hours later, because it slows down the absorption of the glucose into my blood. So have a little fiber with your food. Thanks for joining us on the podcast today. It’s wonderful to have you here, and I just want to emphasize how much we appreciate your time and your attention. There’s a lot of other things you could be doing right now and you just spent the last hour with us, and we appreciate that. If there’s someone else out there who you feel could use this information, give them a shout, ask them to subscribe to the podcast. We love that. And of course, you can also leave us a guess what, up to a five star rating Wherever you’re listening to this, and if you haven’t done it yet, hey, pull out your phone and just do that. It would be really great, it would really help us. And leave us a comment If you want to get in touch with me directly, david, at superagecom, next week I will be having arthroscopic surgery on my knee, as I mentioned, but we will be back with you on regular schedule the following Thursday and I’ll give you an update on my knee. I hope everybody has a wonderful week. We hope to see them. Take care now.

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


Taylor Marks
Taylor Marks is a certified holistic health coach and professionally trained chef from The Institute of Culinary Education. Her passions include the latest research in health science, culinary arts, holistic wellness, and guiding others towards feeling their best.


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