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Reading List - Chapter 9: Relationships

Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study, by George Vaillant

At a time when people are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers welcome news for old age: our lives evolve in our later years and often become more fulfilling. Among the surprising findings: people who do well in old age did not necessarily do so well in midlife, and vice versa.

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Living Beyond Limits: New Hope and Help for Facing Lifethreatening Illness, by David Spiegel

Living Beyond Limits is a compassionate guide to coping with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Dr. David Spiegel's groundbreaking research into mind-body healing stunned both the medical and alternative medical establishments. His work showed unquestionably the profound role support groups play in enhancing and prolonging the lives of patients with serious chronic disease. From this breakthrough study, Dr. Spiegel developed a proven program to help anyone with a chronic illness improve his or her quality of life. Sensitive and inspiring, the book offers help in finding new networks of support, reviewing and reordering life priorities, strengthening family relationships, improving communication with doctors, controlling pain and other symptoms, and dealing with fears of dying.

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Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler

Renowned scientists Christakis and Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another's tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, even weight, as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.

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Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become, by Barbara L. Fredrickson

We all know love matters, but in this groundbreaking book positive emotions expert Barbara Fredrickson shows us how much. Even more than happiness and optimism, love holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our lives.

Using research from her own lab, Fredrickson redefines love not as a stable behemoth, but as micro-moments of connection between people—even strangers. She demonstrates that our capacity for experiencing love can be measured and strengthened in ways that improve our health and longevity. Finally, she introduces us to informal and formal practices to unlock love in our lives, generate compassion, and even self-soothe.

Rare in its scope and ambitious in its message, Love 2.0 will reinvent how you look at and experience our most powerful emotion.

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Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health, by Dean Ornish

We all know that intimacy improves the quality of our lives. Yet most people don't realize how much it can increase the quality of our lives -- our survival. In this New York Timesworld-renowned physician Dean Ornish, M.D., writes, "I am not aware of any other factor in medicine that has a greater impact on our survival than the healing power of love and intimacy. Not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery." He reveals that the real epidemic in modern culture is not only physical heart disease but also what he calls spiritual heart disease: loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression. He shows how the very defenses that we think protect us from emotional pain are often the same ones that actually heighten our pain and threaten our survival. Dr. Ornish outlines eight pathways to intimacy and healing that have made a profound difference in his life and in the life of millions of others in turning sadness into happiness, suffering into joy.

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The Roseto Story: An Anatomy of Health, by John G Bruhn and Stewart Wolf

Roseto is a small Italian-American community in east-central Pennsylvania. This fifteen-year study drawing on medical histories, physical examinations, and laboratory tests, compared a large sample of Rosetans to inhabitants of two neighboring communities, Bangor and Nazareth, and followed up this research with a sociological study of the three communities. Despite a greater prevalence of obesity in Roseto, and despite similar dietary, smoking, and exercise habits and similar ethnic and genetic background, the inhabitants of Roseto were relatively immune to heart disease at the beginning of the research in 1963. They were also strikingly tenacious in adhering to Old World values and customs. When these traditional values and relationship were abandoned by the rising generation, the death rate from heart disease climbed toward the American norm. The study concluded that unconditional interpersonal support counteracts life stress and thus preserves life.

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