Practicing Love

What's Love Got to Do with It?

DrLindaHonet_HeadShotLove is a tricky subject, especially when blogged by a dermatologist such as I, but as we close out February, the quintessential month of all things related to love, I think the topic of love is apropos.

There are all kinds of love. There is love between lovers, between husband and wife, between life partners. There is love for one’s child, one’s parent, one’s sister or brother. There is love for a friend, a neighbor, or a coworker. And there is also love for one’s fellow man, all people, and the global humanity. But as of late, it seems that we are missing this essential-to-life emotion in our everyday existence. My heart is breaking a little, bit by bit, for our own people, as a community, as Americans. I ask you, where is the love?

Why would I, a dermatologist, blog about love you may ask? It comes as no surprise that with the recent changing of our Presidential guards, we as the American people are watching our own humanity take opposition to one another, and it isn’t at all pleasant. I even witness this emotionally negative upheaval among my patients, where some even feel divided within their own families. How could this be? How did our wonderful country come to this, where friend opposes friend, where neighbor clashes against neighbor, where family is in conflict with family? How could it be that the immigrant is suddenly the enemy, when the very foundations of our country were built on immigrant sweat, tears, and personal sacrifice? The notion of a melting pot that has defined our United States of America for centuries is no longer a positive, where the spirit of the explorer, seeking new horizons, and individualism are devalued. And in fact, separation, isolation, and dissolution are the resounding themes of our American existence. How did this happen? I understand that the collective American cry is for a revolution of thought and governance, but is turning against our own peoples, no matter the circumstances of their immigrant experience, current or generational, the real answer? I am amazed, truly, incredibly, dishearteningly amazed that we as Americans have come to this.

So this is where the topic of love comes in. As a practicing physician and dermatologist, I take care of “all-comers,” young, old, rich, poor, female or male. All doctors do, or at least, theoretically do. I am not to judge a patient on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, mental state, emotional demeanor, or income. I must put my personal history, experiences, opinions, beliefs, political ties, and judgements aside. Isn’t that what you expect from me as your doctor? Believe me, not every single patient that walks through my office doors is nice, or pleasant, or even civil. And still others are downright nasty and offensive, and although rare, shockingly verbally abusive, judgmental, chauvinistic, and/or prejudicial. But every single day, I must do what I am trained and educated to do, to deliver the best medical care possible, within my human capabilities, to each and every patient that comes my way. And of course, I expect my staff to do the same. As a doctor, I have to love that patient, even if the loving sometimes requires corralling my super-human powers to do so. I have to be kind, understanding, compassionate, empathetic, and considerate, no matter who awaits me in that examining chair. At times, it is really, really tough. And sometimes, the love I give is tough too, when it is for my patient’s own good. And still other times, love isn’t enough and a patient and I have to part ways. I am sure I have failed to love on some level numerous times, but I still must try my best. I may not like every patient that walks in the door, but as a doctor, I still must and always will err on the side of love.

And let’s not forget, that when we choose love, when we nurture those around us, when we support and value our personal relationships and prioritize them, great things happen. What are these great things you ask? Superb things like longer life, happiness, and fulfillment are what you reap. Wow! Mind blowing, right? In fact, a 75-year Harvard study found love to be the one key ingredient to having a fulfilling life. Loving relationships and choosing love will give you more than you could ever anticipate or fathom. It is not your income, your religion, your job, the size of your car or home, or even the number of friends that will make you happier. What will make you happier and lead a healthier, longer, and fulfilled life is just plain, old, simple, unadulterated, pure love. It is the quality of love, the choosing of it, and prioritizing it that will most bring you happiness and longevity. Period.

So I implore to you, my blog reader, let’s err on the side of love. Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see the situation from the other’s point of view. Of course, there are going to be outliers, driven by evil and ill will, but most people are good, if you take the time to witness their goodness. Because you see, all of us have more in common with each other than not. Most of us have parents and family. Most of us have a personal history that is worth telling. Most of us have worked hard and sacrificed. Most of us have known deep heartache and great loss. Most of us have gained something good too, in our lives, in some way, so we aren’t so completely jaded. And most of us Americans originally came from somewhere else in the world, often from far, far away, to seek a better life and to call this country home.

So that’s it. Choose love. Let’s not forget to love. Let’s practice love, because as the adage goes, practice does make perfect, and what better thing to practice and make perfect than love?

–Dr. H

Practicing Love