Aside from the fact that it’s the second great commandment, there are a lot of practical reasons you should become built to love. The research is piling up. Loving makes you happier, feel better and live longer.
For example, in a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. These researchers took MRIs of people’s brains while they anonymously donated to real charitable organizations related to major societal causes. Remarkably, their study showed that the reward system in our brains “is engaged by donations in the same way as when monetary rewards are obtained.” Giving and receiving activate the exact same reward center. In other words, as far as your brain is concerned, giving is receiving.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive studies in history, shows that the greatest predictor of health and happiness is not wealth or fame but loving relationships. Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and current director of the study, explained in a recent TED talk, “The lessons [we’ve learned] aren’t about wealth, or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
“If you want to know how much you mean to others try showing others how much they mean to you. Love builds confidence because it not only reveals your heart but also the hearts of others.” — Daniel J. McDonald