John Robbins, the heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune, stated on the US Coast to Coast radio show that one of the surprises of his research into cultures known for their longevity, was the importance of love and healthy relationships. Loneliness and negative interactions can depress the functioning of the body’s systems and lead to poor health, Robbins reported.
“I believe that ultimately it is the love in our lives that underlies and makes possible our greatest healing and longevity.”
I have also heard that the number one killer in our society is not cancer or heart disease – it is loneliness. This is not a surprise to me, as loneliness is often the underlying feeling that so many people attempt to avoid with their various addictions.
People in cultures known for their longevity do not live alone. Before modern civilisation, people did not live alone. Our ‘civilised way of life’ has led to the loneliness that is endemic in our society.
We are not meant to live alone. We are meant to live in caring communities with people to turn to for love and connection, and for help when we need it. Love, connection and support are vital for our health and wellbeing.
Without caring family, community, or friends to turn to, we lack the connection with others that we all need. However, in order to feel connected with others, we first need to be connected with ourselves.
We all need the feeling of inner connection that comes from being tuned in to ourselves and to our personal source of spiritual guidance. We need the feeling of inner connection that comes from taking loving care of ourselves – physically, emotionally and spiritually. But the goal of inner connection is not being alone. When we connect with ourselves and with our spiritual guidance, we fill ourselves with love – and we then want to share that love with others.
No matter how inwardly connected we are, we are not islands unto ourselves. We need others with whom to share our love and our joy. We need others to play with and learn with. And we need others to turn to in times of sadness and grief. Without this, we feel lonely.
Loneliness is one of the hardest feelings to feel. The feeling itself can be experienced as life threatening since we could have died as babies if we were left alone for too long. We can feel lonely in many different situations: when we are alone and have no one with whom to share love, when we are with people who are not open to connecting with us, and when we are with people and we are not open to connecting with them.
The feeling of loneliness may be so painful that you turn to various addictions to avoid the feeling. Many people do not even know that they are feeling lonely because they respond addictively so quickly. They the grab the food, the drink, the drug, the cigarette, turn on the TV, get busy, or get angry before they are aware of having a feeling, and then wonder why they cannot stop their addictions. Often people become addicted to a dysfunctional relationship and cannot leave for fear of the loneliness and disconnection. When people are not connected with themselves and their spiritual guidance, they may have a connection addiction, constantly pulling on others for the connection they so desperately need.
Continual loneliness and the inner aloneness from inner disconnection, create much stress in the body, which leads to illness. In addition to proper nutrition and exercise, one reason certain cultures live long and healthy lives is that they have love and connection with others always available to them.
Do not discount the power and importance of inner and relationship connection. If you want optimal health, you need to take the action in your own behalf to seek out loving and caring people and to do the inner work necessary to become a loving and caring person with yourself and with others.