I thought to wax poetic today about neurobiological research showing that human connection is good for us. It turns out, no poetry is necessary.
It’s quite simple: feeling positively connected with others decreases stress-inducing chemicals in our brains and increases the chemicals that make us feel good. We handle things more gracefully because we regulate our emotions more successfully and think more clearly.
Here are some good news details:
- Connectedness is not about how many friends we have or how much time we spend with them. It’s about a subjective sense of connection.
- Both mental and physical health improve when we are connected.
- If we talk to somebody about our hard times, we do better
Researcher Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill summarizes
“The daily moments of connection that people feel with others emerge as the tiny engines that drive the upward spiral between positivity and health.”
I love that she mentions “daily moments.” Her language makes of connection an in-the-moment practice. In the same way that I watch for Delights of the Day, I can watch for moments of connection. (In fact, looking over my log from last week, many of my delights already are moments of connection.) Better, I can create moments of connection: a gentle touch, a phone call, a compassionate email message.
Best of all, connection goes both ways – the hug that makes me healthier also helps you.
Psychobiology agrees with ancient wisdom: Love one another.