Guest Writer for Wake Up World
For all the emotions we feel through our lives, the pinnacle – the most positive of the positives – has to be the feeling of love. The entire music industry seems to have developed into a tribute to the idea of love. Empires, industries and individuals rise and fall from the pursuits of love.
If love is the utmost of positive emotions one can feel, then what lessons can we learn from falling in love? Let’s take a look at the chemistry of falling in love to see what clues it provides.
The chemistry of falling
Initially dopamine, one of our happiness hormones, plays a large part in the feelings of euphoria. The excitement felt towards the subject of your infatuation, even from just the thought of them is amplified thanks to this chemical change in your brain. Following the early bursts of dopamine (and testosterone) a few neurotransmitters start firing. This is where things start to get interesting.
These neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and phenylethylamine for those playing along at home) lead you to begin to focus intently on your crush. You think of little else but them and when your mind is on them, euphoria courses through you. You focus on what’s amazing about them. How great they make you feel. How you want to spend all your time with them. This hormonal cocktail becomes a set of blinkers – focusing you on what’s amazing about that person and how good you feel. No wonder we love falling in love!
Another person isn’t the only thing we can fall in love with. When you reach a level of passion in a pursuit we see it as love. You fall in love with a new job. You come across an amazing idea and you fall in love. That holiday destination you never want to leave? Love.
Now consider the process of falling in love with each of these concepts. After an initial hook, we narrow our focus and dwell on the positives. Just like your crush, you don’t pay attention (or even notice) the bad things. You ignore the long hours at your new job because you love the work you do. The hawkers on the street at your dream destination don’t bother you because your focus is on the beautiful beach you’re en route to.
Although we may not be able to reproduce the exact depth of the feeling of falling in love, nor duplicate the neuro-chemical fireworks that join that feeling, it doesn’t mean we can’t work towards it. If we reflect on what we do, the specific behaviours, of falling in love then we can learn a valuable lesson.
We can learn from falling in love.
Learning from falling
How we interpret events around us comes down to the choice we make of what meaning to give them. We can choose whether to focus our attention on the annoying things or on what works. We can focus on what is great about our lives and by doing that, we fall in love.
If you want to help this process along it can be very simple. At the start of each day, perhaps while you are walking to the bus, spend a few minutes and talk to yourself. Talk about all the things you love. What do you love about yourself? What do you love about your family? Your abilities, your friends, your job, your partner? Push yourself to find them because I promise you, they are there. Do this every morning for a week. Spend 5 minutes and put those blinkers on. Ignore the cons and focus intently on what you love, on what you are thankful for. There is no doubt that after a week of doing this you will see so much more to love in your life than you thought existed.
It’s not a matter of love appearing, it’s a matter of you discovering it. Our focus has a powerful effect on how we see and react to things in our lives, and this is an idea I explore in detail in my class ‘Frames‘, which is available now through growlifelong.com.
The lifelong approach
There’s no magic formula for happiness. It lives in small everyday changes.
If you are wanting to discover more simple ways to find more happiness with small changes, be sure to enjoy my free introductory Lifelong Online course (and by “free” I actually mean FREE!) Through this course, I discuss why ‘self-help’ isn’t always so helpful, and help you to understand how some human evolutionary ‘hangovers’ make happiness something we actually have to work towards.
At Lifelong, we believe that happiness is a skill; one that anyone can learn, and one that everyone should have access to. The entire Lifelong course is available through our online store.
Updated September 2014
About the author:
Sydney-based Josh Johnston is an expert in making small changes that lead to big results. As one of Apple’s youngest ever managers, Josh travelled the world, creating and training Apple’s teams, and building working environments that allowed his teams to feel valued, challenged and successful. Through this work, he noticed some patterns in what helped people to love their jobs and love their lives – thus his new enterprise Lifelong was born.
Lifelong is an organisation designed to help you make small changes which create more happiness and fulfilment in your life. Josh is excited about the chance to work with even more people, and to help build products and organisations that help young people get the most out of work and their life.