Do any of us make
a new decision without
recalling past situations
and the people involved?
How others reacted?
What advice we received?
Your experience with people is as much a part of who you are as the hair on your head, your smile, and your attitude. The sum of who you are is the essence of every person and event of your life.
We are the product of our relationships. All the people that we recall in our decision-making process are our internal community. Sometimes we remember the good things that happened. Other times, it’s the bad experiences that guide our next steps. However, isn’t there always a person attached to the memory?
So, community is not just on the outside, but inside as well. Simply put, how we treat others determines who we are.
The Biology of Relationship
Our relationships are built into our DNA. It is our hormones that guide us and reward us for how we treat ourselves and others.
There is dopamine, probably the best-known hormone because of its connection to drugs and alcohol. I always thought that “dope” got its name because of the stupidity of taking drugs. Turns out it is a derivative of the word dopamine, the hormone that gives us a quick rush of euphoria when we take a drink or do drugs.
It is this euphoria that addicts pursue in their unrelenting quest to feel good one more time. The feeling is never as good as that first time, though.
Addiction to gambling, sex, and food are also connected to our desire for a dopamine rush. We also get a hit of dopamine when our phone alerts us to a new message. Are smartphones addictive?
In a sense, we become addicted to feeling good. By my definition, dopamine is the self-centered hormone. The good feelings come from what we do for ourselves to bring joy to only us.
On the other hand, the hormone oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” gives us that same feeling of euphoria when we simply interact with others. Typically, oxytocin is known as the hormone that helps babies and mothers bond during breastfeeding.
Studies show, however, that oxytocin is released with almost any positive interaction with another person. Even with animals.
For me, the best thing about oxytocin is that when we interact with others and our oxytocin levels go up, they get that good feeling, too. Kind of a hormonal “win-win.” How cool is that? When we interact positively with others, we all feel good.
It’s oxytocin that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we hug or even when we shake hands. It is oxytocin that gives us joy when we volunteer at the food line, or help someone in need.
We’ve all heard the phrase “pay it forward.” With the love hormone, when you pay for the coffee of a stranger, you’re not only sharing your money. You are also sharing that warm, fuzzy feeling.
We have a choice. Do we do things that only make ourselves feel good? Or do we help and interact with others so that we all share positive feelings?
The power of community is all about serving people. When we put our needs aside and support others, it not only helps us feel better, it empowers everyone to do the same.
In a community where people help each other, there is less stress and more love. When your exchanges with those who influence and interact with you are rooted in compassion, your internal community is stress free and full of love as well. Every time you call on your internal community for help, just the thought of them could make you feel great!
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a community where everyone is more focused on helping others instead of themselves? Think of the joy that we would all share. It could become addictive.
A better world starts with a better you.
Do you start by thinking of only yourself?
Or do you put the needs of others first?