What’s better than a big old hug and kiss from your Grammie. Nothing and I got me some Italian grandma lovin today. Just thinking about going to see her made me warm and tingling which brought me to the subject of this post. In fact, we ended up talking today about something tied to this subject. I bet you have people in your life, like my Gram that make you feel immediately loved just by thinking of them. Maybe it’s a family member, or a partner, a pet or your child that makes you feel amazing just for being yourself.. This feeling reminds me of the quintessential moment in Bridget Jones when Mark Darcy tells Bridget Jones that he likes her just the way she is. Ahhhhh that moment, that movie. but back to lovin. What is it bout that feeling that makes everything, absolutely everything, seem like it’s all background noise. The feeling of being loved, of being connected to another human being is what makes humans complete. We are social beings. We are meant to be together in community. When we are isolated we are most at risk for depression and potential suicidal thoughts. I always share with my clients that it is community and connection that heals more than any pill, treatment or even therapist. The amount of connection or disconnection we feel with each other will determine how healthy you feel emotionally, physically and spiritually.
What causes that tingling feeling of love in the body. The thing that people sometimes call “chemistry?” It is said that people know within the first five seconds of meeting someone whether they connect with them or not. What is that and how does this fit into overall wellness? Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that gets stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding, hugging, kissing, even shaking hands and smiling. It is the hormone in the body that makes you feel tingling. It lights up the reward center in the brain that rests underneath the cerebral cortex. Hmmm sound familiar? In an earlier post The Ties that Bind Us we discussed the reward center as it relates to addictive substances such as drugs, alcohol and sugar. I also shared that the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, gets released into the body when the reward center is lit up. Wait a minute am I suggesting that oyxtocin reacts the same way in the body as these other substances? Yes I sure am. Being in contact with others socially does the same thing as eating a cookie, shopping or using drugs. The same exact thing. In fact what’s at the core of craving for these substances/behaviors is often a need for connection. I have talked previously about my emotional connection with sugar. It’s the same for most people. In 12 step meetings they talk about addictions as stemming from a “hole in the soul” that gets filled with the person’s substance of choice. It’s the same thing that occurs with other behaviors. It’s a momentary escape from that hole. A momentary fix for a deeper problem. So how do we trade up for healthier ways of getting that good old feeling?Connection, connection, connection. My Gram talked today about how she notices a change that has happened over time. People are less connected. There are fewer close knit communities. Tom Shadyac discussed this in his documentary “I Am.” Shadyac of Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty fame, details his journey towards spiritual awakening in this brilliant film. He describes being in the foyer of his dreamed of mansion….alone. The film chronicles his shift as well as the shift that is needed globally. Astrologists have also been speaking about this global shift for some time. The old “me” paradigm is crumbling and in it’s place a paradigm more focused on love and “we” is replacing it. The shift is happening on an individual basis within a lot of people these days, me being one of them. People are demanding cleaner food sources, supporting local businesses and making changes to bring themselves into a deeper sense of true happiness. There is no better time than the present. Making the shift towards increasing love in your life can happen in small ways every day. Smiling or chatting with a stranger, holding the door open for someone, allowing someone to go before you. These are simple but profound gestures at decreasing the focus on the self and increasing connection with the other.
Happiness is born from the decisions we make on a moment to moment daily basis. What ways can you continue to increase the amazing affects of oxytocin in your life? By connecting with others, you may begin to see your need for other not so healthy behaviors decrease. For me it’s a gradual shift that happens more often when I am present with what I really need. The piece of chocolate’s affects are fleeting but a hug from my Gram…well that lasts forever:)
So to steal a line from a movie about love…soon you will begin to see that Love Actually is….everywhere:)