It's the month of love.
Valentine's Day on the 14th marks the half-way point in the shortest month of the year. Spring is around the corner, and moods seem to be lifting (especially for those of us who have lived through a bit of a deep freeze this winter).
I am thoroughly enjoying a brain seminar series hosted by Ruth Buczynski, PhD, and have learned a ton from eminent speakers including Rick Hanson and Daniel Goleman so far. This week, it's Bruce Lipton who will be sharing some of his research on how emotions (thoughts, perceptions) influence our genes.
Since we are well into this month of love, I thought Dr. Lipton's research would be particularly interesting to share now. It helps to uncover why we look happier and healthier when we are in love. You have surely noticed that sparkle in your friend's eye, or that blushing, glowing face staring back at you when love is present. That happier, healthier 'glow' has to do with the chemicals that are released in your brain when you are experiencing a loving feeling.
Perceiving/noticing/thinking about someone you love releases chemicals in your brain that match your perception of that person. Love releases chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and even growth hormone into your blood. When these chemicals are released and interact with your cells, your cells grow...in fact, they flourish. That is why, Dr. Lipton explains, people in love look so sparkly and happy. That lovely chemical reaction in their brain is filling and feeding healthy cell growth. It is creating life!
Likewise, Dr. Lipton notes, stress and sadness can actually keep your cells from growing properly. When you are experiencing stress or fear, dopamine, oxytocin and growth hormone are replaced by cortisol being released into your blood. Cortisol not only causes cells to stop growing, it causes them to die. Cortisol kills.
So the same person can experience two different results (chemically and biologically) simply from two different perceptions. A simple thought, then, can be a matter of life and death! So it follows, according to Dr. Lipton, life is controlled by our thoughts, not our genes.
Love IS a drug -- and it's the kind of drug that creates life. Your thoughts, your perceptions create your experience of a happy, healthy life.
Stress is also a drug -- and that's the kind of drug that takes life. "Lifestyle -- and responses to life -- are responsible for the vast majority of illness on this planet." says Dr. Lipton.
In my seminars, I encourage people to "Do 'Dope' and Avoid 'Cort'". Dopamine and Cortisol both change your brain chemistry -- one for better, and the other for worse. Lipton describes what happens in your brain -- and your body -- when you are experiencing love. It changes your brain and your cells. It also changes what's written all over your face (which, by the way, attracts or repels the presence of more love in your life!).
So, during this month of February, focus on love.
Look for love (anything that makes you smile all over...your spouse, your kids, your dog, your new love interest...)
Opt for positive thoughts (focus on what's good, spend time contemplating what is working versus what is not, choose to think positively about yourself and others)
Veer away from negative emotion (reframe/reappraise negative experiences to create more positive emotion)
Engage in changing your brain (take action to change your brain to work FOR you, rather than falling victim to it working AGAINST you)!
Are you ready to go out and get high on L.O.V.E.?