Hugs and a serotonin shift



The world has been shrinking due to the fabulous power of things like travel and the Internet. It seems only yesterday when snail mail was the focus and cell phones were things you saved for emergencies. Today snail mail is held for IRS notifications and the once in a blue moon actual birthday card and most of life’s communications are made from the tiny computers in the palm of our hands. If you’ve ever been to Disneyworld® and watched the Carousel of Progress go from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to that of George Jetson, it’s easy to understand how nutty it is that I can tap a button while at the beach in San Diego, California and can video conference with my godson while he’s on the rugby field in Hong Kong. While technology broadens our global relationships, there’s still a feeling of separate in a world of connection.

It’s amazing how disconnected we can feel all the while living with the incredible engineering feats of connectivity. Enter real life contact. Somehow, it feels like we’ve forgotten what that actual conversation can do. Somehow we’ve forgotten the surge of serotonin we get from community and embracing a real conversation or a real or even virtual hug with fellow humans. Emails fling around the high speed cables of the world whizzing by at billions per seconds. People text more than they talk, post on social media more than they hug and spend far more time looking at a screen than they do the universe in front of their eyes. Parents struggle with how to manage screen time, teachers fight a daily texting battle and those in the workforce fight an endless battle of an overflowing digital inbox. How do we revitalize the efforts to bring that human contact back into the forefront of our lives while not losing the benefits of technology and the progress being made in the world of smart devices?

Enter a conversation with a friend. If you’re far away, put that Facetime® to good use. Whether video or verbal, falling back into the hope, trust and kindness of friendly chats does mental, emotional and progressive good. It’s a rebalancing of the shakras, a yogic exercise for the heart and mind, manages to force us back to the good and centers us away from the drudgery of social media and the FOMO that sends our egos into a maniacal tailspin. Freelancers and the ‘work from home’ crowd have taken to coffee shops with the same zeal that kids used to run to the screens for the start of Saturday morning cartoons. The noise of people and the sound of human contact is often a good thing.

In a time of resistance, political turmoil and really, that of life’s everyday minutiae, conversations can change the brain. A few I’ve had in the past two weeks have done just that. Plucking you out of that brain spin that spikes when you feel like things in life or the world are out of control, talking helps. Like a song sung at sleep away camp, some of those chats were with new friends, the other few with those of old. Each conversation, catch up and visit with new friends in our chosen city and those of old across the globe flooded the brain with the good juju of serotonin and set the ick of global politics and world relations into the background while bringing the joy of friendship, laughter and shared experiences to the forefront. Although some of those relationships are grounded in years of shared history and stories that don’t need finishing while the others began recently and seemed to flourish quickly – they all seem forged in laughter and light, positivity and progress, mindfulness and moving forward in various ways.

Those chats changed the day. Those magical minutes were focused on life in the now, perspectives and joy, celebrations and even some struggles but they were all shared. The happiness was magnified while the difficulties lessened. Those conversations did more than pass the time, they changed the face of the day, rejiggered the synapses in the mind and shifted the perspective on the whole. They’re important, they matter and they change the world for the better. Mine happened to be with many who share a similar life’s mindset, but those that invite spirited conversation and differing ideas are also the hope for the future. Bringing people to the table, learning their experience, finding common ground and always choosing empathy and kindness for all can shift the course of politics and people’s lives.

Thank you to those who helped shift my day. Thank you to those who added extra good to the world, helped extend my yoga practice off the mat and helped to strengthen that forcefield we all need to propel the negative nonsense that tries to invade our minds, digital feeds and that of the world we live in. You made a difference.

Find your tribe. If you’re new to a space, check in with old friends. If you aren’t sure about those old relationships, join a Meet Up group and say hi to strangers soon to become friends. If you can’t get out of the house, check in with a quick Facetime® message or a thirty-second call to tell someone you are thinking of them and wanted to check in on how their world is going. Go to a coffee shop and listen as words and stories flit through the air. Take a walk on a boardwalk to watch life in front of you and smile at a stranger. The human contact in real time, video conference or through the sound waves is cheaper than therapy. It only takes a minute, but that conversation can create the shift you need. Make a call or have a visit. Those hugs, virtual or otherwise, are game changers.



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