We Are Herd Animals

September 25th, 2006

Some days, try as you might, the weight of all the promises yet to keep is almost unbearable.  I work at mindfulness, seeing the trees as I drive and noticing a bird overhead or the sound of my children’s voices.  I work to create a thought that can move me closer to gratitude and optimism, which sometimes feels like a leap.  The thought that moves me with the most certainty every time is knowing that I have a partner, a lover, a husband who will stand by me.

In an interesting article in Oprah this month about the key reducers of stress, I noticed that topping the list was social support.  We are herd animals in the end, I think, and although there are some that might argue against the sense of monogamy, it is without question one of the surest paths to a healthy and stable life.  One study demonstrated that poor social relationships are at least as damaging to physical health as cigarette smoking.  So yes, not being in a relationship is better than  being in a bad one, but a good one figures in to significant improvement in health issues (everything from depression to heart disease) and even makes you live longer.

Even more promising is that there are more and more initiatives that support education programs for marriage- oh what a fine idea,  give people some skill based insights in communication and conflict resolution and it works!  More on this to come.

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