Spread The Love!
"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." ~Lucretius
February 14th − love, hearts, flowers, chocolate (yes, I went there!)... a day when crushes are revealed, love is celebrated, and romance winds through the air like a promise. And it's powerful stuff − intoxicating − a force that draws us in with each flap of Cupid's wings.
As if that's not reason enough to spread the love, it's good for you too!
- Makes you look good: Really! From clearer skin − love reduces stress; reduced stress means less cortisol; lower levels of cortisol mean reduced acne! − to smokin' bodies (being in love often sparks the motivation to work out and take care of ourselves). And it makes you smile. Fact: People look better when they smile.
- Sparks your immune system: Close friendships, meaningful connections, couples in love (aka happy teams who communicate and work together to resolve conflicts) and good sex all contribute to strengthened immune systems!
- Reduces fear and pain: Holding someone's hand (especially someone you love) can actually change the way your brain perceives fear and pain. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, performed a study where women experienced mild electric shocks. Levels of fear and pain were recorded through brain MRIs. Levels went from high (no hand holding) to moderate (holding the hand of a stranger) to low (holding the hand of a romantic partner). Amazing!
- Helps you live longer: Long term, committed relationships mean reduced stress and risky behaviors, increased communication and feelings of hope. Voila − a healthier, happier you!
- Makes you happy: From dopamine to oxytocin, love gives us happy brain chemicals!As anthropologist Helen Fisher states, "The bottom line is, the dopamine rush that comes from being in love gives you tremendous energy and optimism."
- Heightens heart health: Don't give up those workouts (really!), but being in love means an increase in adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. As they course through your blood, your heart actually beats more quickly − and with greater strength. Same thing occurs when you go for a run!
- Changes lives: Whether it is love for a child, a grandparent, a partner, a friend, or a pet... love brings out the best in us and in turn, sparks the best in others. Connections are powerful. Just hug a dog and tell me you don't feel it. Or perform a random act of kindness; there is no denying the surge of love that follows.
I know V-Day can seem superficial... but it celebrates love, and really, what is more beautiful? Consider this special meditation: Take a few minutes to think about someone you love. Focus on why you love him/her in addition to what you truly appreciate about this person. As you start to list all that you are grateful for, you will probably feel elevated. It's amazing how experiencing love and gratitude − even in meditation − can fill us with our own sense of peace, importance, and joy.
I hope you fill this Valentine's Day with unconditional love and random acts of kindness... And may you always feel the wings of many angels as they embrace you.