As I kissed my wife goodbye and headed to the airport I was, once again, thankful for the wonderful relationship we have. There has been a lot of traveling lately. Both of us headed in different geographical locations but, thankfully, not in different emotional directions. Even our 25th wedding anniversary took a backseat this year (we will be celebrating in Vancouver, BC later) because of international meetings, conferences, and presentations at professional meetings. We both work hard, she more so than I, but we both know we can count on the other for support. This is part of the reason I took an old book along with me during one of my latest trips. It was Dr. Dean Ornish’s book titled, Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health.
Now, if you are like me, when you hear the name “Dean Ornish” you think of the well-known health and lifestyle physician, most famous for his work in reversing heart disease with a plant-based vegetarian diet, meditation, and mild exercise. There are many physicians today who understand his work (though most do not) and are now suggesting plant-based vegan diets and lifestyles to their patients for better overall health. Dr. Ornish, though not the first to publish research in this area, is the first person who became well-known for doing so.
The book I have was published way back in 1999 and I have to say, it’s not a book I would highly recommend. Not because he didn’t make a good case for love being an important (if not the most important) indicator for overall health and as something that, when strongly present, lowers risk of all causes of mortality – he did. It’s just that he did it so well, I found myself thinking, “Alright already – I get it! Love is good for the soul and the body…”
What Ornish writes about most in the book is the loving relations that come within good marriages. However, he also makes it clear that marriage is not the only place where love can be found. I’d also like to say that “love” is not the only word we should be using. Strong and constant “support” can also be of great aid for our emotional and physical wellbeing.
The opposite of these positive relations are those lives lived in isolation, some (like Thoreau) might say lives of quiet desperation. You need not be living alone on Walden’s Pond to feel alone. You can live in the big city, you might work at a firm with hundreds of employees, the geographical location is not of great importance for those who are isolated. It is the lack of support where we find ourselves to be most vulnerable.
My sense is that most of the people who read these posts are not isolated individuals. Most comments I’ve received lead me to believe many are in good relationships, are connected to community, and receive support, if not all the time, when it is needed.
I’m very fortunate that when I come home from my travels, or my spouse comes back from hers, we are able to pick up where we left off, that we do not question the support of the other, and that we are (most often) headed in the same direction. While love may not be ALL we need, it is a great gift nonetheless when present.
I’d be very interested to hear what steps you might take if you found yourself living an isolated life. Please do me the favor of using the comments section below so others, who might be isolated, can read your ideas.
Until next time, I’m…
Wishing you well,
Rev. Russell Elleven, DMin, BCC, CWP is a Board Certified Coach and Certified Wellness Practitioner. He helps individuals obtain health and wellbeing through his coaching practice The Minister of Health, LLC and through congregational work as the executive director of The Genesis 1:29 Project.
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