Interconnectivity and biochemistry
Of the many things I do on a daily basis, I find the most joy in being around people and learning from them. There’s something about getting to know others that makes me happy. This goes hand in hand with something I’ve found consistent in all my research, namely that everyone has the need to feel accepted and loved. This is even true for people who say none of that matters to them. These feelings of acceptance are manifested through chemical responses in the brain that affect how we act or react to the world around us. The need to feel connected to others is part of our physical and emotional well being.
These feelings of connection activate different parts of our body. Our brain also absorbs these feelings to interpret them and consciously identify them. This connects our body and minds to emotions such as connectivity and love. There are certain neurotransmitters that play a role in this function including serotonin, dopamine, Oxycontin and noradrenaline. It appears that all of these biochemicals become present and stimulate feelings of creativity and a sense of internal peace that keeps our tissues and organs in a healthy state of function. This leads to healthy hormones, digestive system, immune system and higher levels of energy. There’s no doubt that this balance of neurotransmitters has an effect on our physical and mental health.
On the other hand, when love and acceptance aren’t present, it is common to feel a sense of inadequacy, guilt or unworthiness. This leads to a desire to continuously please others and be perfect. These feelings become a conduit for persistent worry and hyperactivity – all of which are manifestations of stress. When stress becomes a constant companion our health is at serious risk. The difficult thing in all of this is that we may not be aware of how present stress is in our lives. This is because as humans we can be self deceiving and create new thoughts and perceptions to suppress any warning that our thoughts or actions may be leading us down an unhealthy lifestyle.
As we become caught up in stories we tell ourselves we also become less aware of the needs of those around us and the opportunities we have to connect with others. We need look no further than our own homes to witness this in play. How often have we missed out on opportunities to strengthen our connections with loved ones because of a bad day at work or school? How often has a child in need of attention not received it because our minds were focused on an impending project? No doubt there will always be days where we experience the grip of anxiety. One of the most important lessons we need to learn is how to reconcile stressful episodes so as not to diminish that which matters most.
The health benefits we receive from human connection and love are many. As we seek to fulfill those needs, we would be wise to also watch out for activities or behaviors that provide a false sense of connectivity or love. Alcoholism, drug use and immoral behaviors are examples of vices that provide a momentary sense of connectivity or even euphoria. However, by participating in these behaviors we numb our abilities to sense or feel real connectivity.
Interestingly enough, everything begins with one’s self. Self love is key to truly being able to love and connect with others. I’m not referring to being vain or narcissistic. Having self respect, learning to trust one’s self and being kind in how we think or talk about ourselves are all indicators of our ability to love and connect with others. Barriers to learning from mistakes are placed whenever we think or speak negatively of ourselves. These same roadblocks we put up inevitably end up between ourselves and close ones which leads to alienation and an inability to make the most out of life and its many joys that come through family and friendships.