loveValentine’s Day is just a couple days away and of course, just like every other blogger, I’m choosing to write about LOVE. But I want to talk about LOVE and how we as human beings are wired to feel good from love, and how important it is to find love or the good feelings that we get from love in healthy ways.

From a basic neuroscientific perspective, our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin that makes us feel good when we are “in love” or when we have romantic bonding or even social interaction. The reason that the drug Ecstasy is so popular is that it increases the amount of oxytocin in our brains, also causing us to feel euphoric. That also explains why some of us are codependent or addicted to “people” or relationships – and why some people are constantly seeking the “high” of a NEW relationship.

So how can you feel good from “love” in a healthy way?

  1. Obviously, strive to have an adequate amount of positive, nurturing relationships. If you isolate, push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people with like interests, or reach out to family or even friends with whom you may have lost touch.
  2. Depending on your religion or beliefs, spirituality and feeling connected to your creator and love source can be a HUGE way to feel euphoric and joyful. Schedule time daily to get quiet, meditate and be connected with God or your higher self.
  3. Don’t forget to love yourself! I write about this all the time because I think that we substance abusers – if not most humans in general – tend to be very self-critical and negative about ourselves. Make sure you practice positive, loving self-talk. Here’s more on that topic.
  4. Pass on the love with a smile to others – even strangers. Take some time to do a random act of kindness for someone else. Even if you are in a sad or negative emotional state yourself, helping someone else takes the focus off of your own problems and instantly makes you feel better.

It’s not an accident that we feel good when we feel love. It’s a part of our natural reward system built in to encourage more and more of it. Make sure you are getting your daily dose and spread the love around.

Happy Valentine’s Day!