Love. Fun, sweet, nurturing, enlivening, and…good for the brain.
Good for the brain? How romantic is that?
Recent studies on the brain have uncovered the importance of relationships in brain development, maintenance and repair. Did you know that our brains are designed to intuit another person’s mental state of being? When we are in relationship with another person, we are attuned to something beyond our own thinking, receptive to something greater than just ourselves. This builds our sense of compassion, patience, balance and focus—and the fibers of the brain that are responsible for these qualities.
It is not always easy though, is it? The early dopamine rush of a new relationship doesn’t challenge the complex integrative fibers of the brain much! Everything seems easy and wonderful! It’s the stick-to-itiveness that is required as a relationship progresses that gives our brains the workout it needs to thrive!
Developing patience to tolerate quirky (but not abusive!) behaviors, taking time to listen to another, being able to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand their perspective, finding the balance between taking care of yourself and caring for another—all this (and more!) is necessary for a healthy relationship. It takes a great deal of work on ourselves to be able to relate with someone in a balanced and compassionate way, but it is worth the time and effort to heal, grow and bond with—and because of—another.
Forgiveness, presence of mind, self-awareness, releasing expectations, embracing new ideas, blending with another. These are tools for multiple purposes: spiritual and personal growth, emotional intelligence, building relationships and supporting the brain!
As you celebrate February with the ones you love, remember that as you love, you are exercising your brain as well as your heart and soul! I wouldn’t say “No pain, no gain,” but conscious effort is definitely part of the workout!
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.