Can love do it all?
Can it lower your blood pressure, reduce depression, and make injuries heal faster?
Recent research by the Washington Post says yes. Apparently, according to the experts consulted (psychology profs, departments of health and human service, social psychologists and the like):
– having someone to support us through stressful times makes the stressful times easier to handle
– happily married people have lower blood pressure than unhappily married ones
– loving spouses encourage good health and wellness choices: flossing, exercising, eating well
– feelings of love trigger the brain’s dopamine-reward system, and boost your immune system
– love helps wounds heal faster
So what’s my point?
I argue that all of the above–every single one of those benefits–can come from within. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still hoping to find the man I’ll want to spend my life with. It’s just that the emphasis has shifted.
I spent much of last year consciously exploring love. And here’s what I discovered: I–let’s make that we–feel the most love when we give it.
Love isn’t illusive. It’s not something we need to search for. It’s not out there embodied by someone else, who will bring it fully into our life. Love is rockin’ our world from right within our own hearts.
DON’T BUY IT. TRY IT
Don’t believe me? Here’s an exercise Shiva, my friend and Ayur Vedic doctor, had me do a couple years ago. Bring to mind someone you really care for–your dog, your daughter, your niece or nephew. Start talking to them. Have a full-on imaginary dialogue. During and after, notice how you feel.
When I did this, Shiva put his cell phone in the palm of my hand. He asked me to pretend it was an adorable puppy. I felt silly. I kind of got it. It didn’t really sink in. So I decided to practice. The universe helped me along; I started doggy-sitting a puppy once a week. My niece was born. And I learned about love. It sunk in.
I noticed that when I was with them–when I’m with them now–I’m lit right up. I’m literally fueled by and filled with love. There’s an emptiness we single people sometimes feel. It was gone.
This has rocketed out into the rest of my life–charging me up in millions of moments. Birds can spark it. Trees can ignite it. Seeing a child, thrilled, on a swing, can send it spiraling. I can feel full up with love and fully supported all on my own.
Love has tons of benefits–scientists have gone out of their way to prove it. (They like hard facts). But we can find the most powerful version of it within our own hearts. That love can:
– help us feel supported through stressful times
– lower our blood pressure
– encourage good health and wellness choices
– trigger dopamine and boost our immune system
– help wounds heal faster
We’re not lacking. We have so much to give. Our circle of love includes ourself.