Editor’s Note: the original version of this article was first posted on the C2C in 2010.
“In the 1950s, the small town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, raised considerable interest in the scientific community because of its strikingly low rate of death from coronary heart disease. Epidemiologists began to study the Rosetans, expecting to find low levels of the major risk factors of coronary heart disease: cigarette smoking, fat consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. They got a big surprise.
The Rosetan’s health habits were no different from those of other Americans. They had similar risk factors. It turned out that the protective factor was actually the intimate social fabric of the community. The extended family was alive and well in this homogeneous Italian-American community. People tended to stay within Roseto, and so there was a great deal of closeness. People knew one another, their family histories, their joys and sorrows. In Roseto there were plenty of people to listen and to lend a hand when needed.
In the 1960s, as Roseto became more Americanized and less close-knit, the rate and severity of heart attacks rose to the national level. In the 1990s the original researches, using data from death certificates, conducted a fifty-year study of Rosetans, and confirmed their findings. Close family ties and a cohesive community turned out to be more important than health habits in predicting heart disease.” – from Minding the Body, Mending the Mind (Bold added.)
I found this quote fascinating. Building community is preventative medicine!
I should say that I was always big on being independent and attempting to do everything on my own until very recently. For me, the path from childhood to young adulthood was all about becoming more and more independent. Learning how to deal with life’s difficulties on my own and becoming stronger for it. There was a sense of pride in all that. But that idea has been changing for me, very drastically.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the path from young adulthood to adulthood seems to be one where we have to humble ourselves and learn how to reach out for that help and support we had learned to live without in the past, when we were striving to be fiercely independent. I think the above quote argues for this very idea. We simply cannot achieve our personal goals alone.
Well I guess technically we can do it alone, but it is certainly not beneficial for us. It actually adversely affects our health if we choose to close ourselves off from a community or a family and do things alone. We’re humans and we’re born to be part of the whole. Community support is often an overlooked, underestimated, but important tool for every writer.
Anyone who has ever achieved tremendous success has never done it alone. There’s always a loving wife or husband, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or mentor, or agent that they could not have done it without.
I encourage you to reach out for support and help if you ever need it. If your friends are not supportive of your goals, please consider getting other friends, now that you know your circle directly affects your health. So keep a good circle. Protect yourself from negativity or cynics who pass themselves off as “reality checkers.” Hold on to your own. I’ll try to do the same, too.
During these tough times, more than ever, it’s important to remember: we simply cannot thrive alone in our little introverted worlds, where we have some kind warped idea that we are a failure if we ask for help or support. Fellow artists and non-artists, if you feel yourself begin to despair, seek support. It’s literally some of the best medicine for your body.
What are ways in which you reach out for support?
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