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Habits of Love

“Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing…I am not aware of any other factor in medicine- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death from all causes.” –Dr. Dean Ornish

These words began a revolution of thinking about the critical connections between our physical well being and our level of connection in life. As a heart doctor, Ornish paved the way in demonstrating not just a mind- body connection, but a heart connection which determines our well being, ability to heal, our most basic ability to enjoy life. That our physical heart is deeply connected and influenced by our relationships is intuitive and has been understood in this light since ancient civilizations, so in some ways the scientific studies only underline what we have always known. Love is the cure as well as the illness in our world, and evolving our ability to love, increases not only our chances of survival but creates a depth and meaning in life that only happens in relationships.

The healing affects of intimacy and connection extend deeply into the physical act of lovemaking. Hundreds of major medical studies have shown that an active sex life leads to a longer life, better heart health, a healthier immune response, reduction in chronic pain symptoms, lower rates of depression and even protection against some cancers. Men who have regular sex (only twice per week) have half as many heart attacks as men who only have sex once per month. In fact, a regular garden variety sex life has been shown to extend life by as much as ten years. People who enjoy a meaningful sex life are less anxious, fearful and inhibited.

If you are looking to green your lifestyle, why not start here. All the habits that you develop about sustaining your environment and home apply to your relationships. Feed your relationship with the same energy that you bring to the selection and preparation of your food shopping and cooking habits. Giving your time to composting and recycling is no different than finding the space to air out your feelings. Making commitments to simplify your life and reducing impact on the environment requires the same amount of mental energy as constructing the space and time for deep and meaningful touch in your days.

And just look at the sustainability benefits- Not only will you be happier and more optimistic as you take on the challenges of dealing with our quickly-changing biosphere, but you will likely be healthier and have more time to make a real difference. Greening your love has the power to extend out to the world in ways that we can barely imagine. It’s a worthy practice that can only make life more sustainable.