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How To Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Value of Support

When we don't understand our real needs or how to fulfill them, we are left with a void that is all too easily filled by illness or dangerous habits. As children, many of us got some of our most nurturing attention when we were sick. Some of us still use the same tactic as adults. We think we have to break down totally before we can get the help and attention we need. Claudia, at age forty-seven, reported that she had never realized how caring her husband and children could be until she developed cancer. While it would be simplistic to assume that serious illness is the result of one factor alone, many health conditions are significantly improved when friendship, attention, and a support system are added to treatment or healing methods. Attention heals!

It is important to have several close friends with whom you can talk about anything - friends who will support you in being the best possible person you can be. To create a supportive network may require that you keep extending yourself, meeting new and stimulating people, potential members of your family." And, it is important to keep in mind that support does not exclude negative feedback or even criticism from others. It is a mark of greatness to be attuned to the truth and willing to hear it, no matter how clumsily it is expressed, how painful it may feel. It is possible, especially among caring friends, to move beyond the realm of winning and losing, being wrong or being right.

Love is giving people the space to be who they are, and who they are not. —Werner Erhard

This is probably the single most important piece of information for you to remember about wellness and feelings. Life is tough anyway. Alone, it may appear to be intolerable. Remember that it is absolutely necessary to ask for and be open to help, just as it is essential to ask for and be open to love.

A twenty-year survey of adults in the United States reported that, regardless of health problems, people who participated in formal social networks of some type outlived those who did not. An affiliation with a social network was found to be the strongest predictor of longevity, even above age, sex, or health. When people are counting on you, you have a reason to get up in the morning.

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