2019: free, on-tap 'feel good' shots
As human beings, our deepest - and dramatically simple - desire is TO FEEL GOOD.
EVERYTHING we do in life is ultimately to fulfil this desire. Towards this, we achieved tremendous feats in all areas of life – scientific, economic, political, medical … - and yet, despite our good intentions, the crude results are staring us in the face: our planet is a mess and we are not feeling so good…
Readily available, free, and delicious
Nevertheless, there is something we can do, each one of us at our level. We can give ourselves and anyone we cross, meet or spend any time with, a ‘feel good’ shot. Let’s repeat the thing as often as possible, with as many people as possible, and our world will become a better place! Moreover, it is easy to do, readily available, it is free and absolutely delicious, it is: Oxytocin!
Oxytocin is the chemical foundation for love, social bonding and trust: whenever we interact with another in a positive fashion, their brain releases oxytocin, which in turn is going to motivate them to do the same for you.
And this is where Nature is admirable: getting our own brain to release oxytocin on demand is very difficult. For it to do so, it needs a social stimulus, an interaction with the other.
This means that if you want to get high on oxytocin, you have to initiate the process so that the other returns you the favor.
Make the world a better place?
Even though this may seem a little simplistic, can this oxytocin triggering make the world a better place? Well, it sure should contribute given its proven effects: oxytocin reduces stress and anxiety, increases our empathy, makes us more altruistic, and improves our immune functions. Not bad eh?
Also, oxytocin is linked to the survival functions of our brain and helps us determine who is safe and whom we better avoid. Thus, it isn't surprising that grumpy, complaining or irascible people don't encourage other people's brains to release oxytocin, and rather drives them to avoidance (or hostility if avoidance is not an option...)
2019 resolution: increase tenfold the production of oxytocin!
So, even if you are feeling bad, and even if you have good reasons to feel bad, make yourself feel better by triggering good feelings in others.
You will need to fulfill two conditions:
You must want to do it (the real challenge is here), and
You must be totally present for the person - or persons - you are interacting with.
For example, every time I go shopping, I decide to trigger oxytocin in a least three people: with a client in the aisles, with a shop assistant, in the queue at the checkout, or with the cashier. It works every time: not only do I go home feeling good (and frankly, shopping is not my favorite activity), but I also have given three people a shot of well-being!
Whenever I go to Paris, I do the same in the metro: I find something nice to say to the person next to me, that shows I am genuinely interested, and if I have put my bag on an empty seat and a person scowls at me asking if the seat is free, I smile, look them in the eyes as if they were a true friend and say: "Well, actually, I was keeping it for you"- up till now, even if the person is surprised, the shot of oxytocin rapidly follows!
And you can do this with the waiter at the restaurant, with people in the lift (you know, that strange place where we all try to pretend we are not there!) with a dog owner, with the park attendant, with a colleague, with...well, anyone. In fact, you have no excuse for not doing it - unless you are a grumpy hermit and never see anyone. In all cases, you must show interest and love (yes, I dare the word) for that being (or those beings if you are addressing a group), and be (I'm repeating myself but this is crucial) totally present.
So, get cracking! and let's meet end 2019 to see if we have improved the world :)
Happy new year!