Well, falling in love makes you obsessive and irrational. Just to make you even better on those did-I-really-do-that decisions, falling in love makes you fearless.
Can love really be good for your brain, for your health?
In this magnificent expression of love by Yeats, you sense his vulnerability.
Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (WB YEATS)
When you are in love, you feel exposed, and vulnerable, and yet persist. In the fall-in-love stage, fear is suppressed. This allows you to let a mostly unknown person into your life.
The part of the brain important in your fear response, the amygdala, switches off (Zeki S). This has been shown in functional MRI studies. These studies are able to detect which parts of the brain are active in specific situations.
The rational, logical part of your brain does not function (Zeki S). A part of the frontal lobe of the brain, the part that is important in reasoning, judgement and critical thinking, is suppressed. This part of the brain, along with the amygdala, also malfunctions when we see beautiful people. (Brad Pitt anyone?)
Have you ever looked back on the choices you have made and wonder, “Why did I do this? What possessed me?”
Do your friends ever ask you, “What were you thinking
Well, this gives you the perfect reason. When you fall in love, your brain is wired to make senseless decisions. Tolstoy (Anna Karenina), who brilliantly observed human nature, says “But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”
And why do you think obsessively about the person you desire?
A chemical in the brain, called serotonin, decreases. This is chemical is also reduced in obsessive compulsive disorder (Zeki S).
So falling in love has been scientifically proven to make you obsessive, irrational and fearless.
Sometimes, those illogical decisions work out beautifully.
As a neurologist, with an interest in brain health, I want to let you know that love helps your brain to stay healthy. This is true of romantic love, and love from family and friends. Feeling loved and understood, helps your memory and reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you do find yourself feeling isolated, consider joining a community organisation or perhaps a group that has similar interests (book clubs, walking clubs, gardening clubs).
Being loved and understood, also involves being a source of support and love for other people. It can be difficult sometimes. Whether relationships are new, or old, you need to understand how to do this.
An excellent book to improve your understanding and capacity for love is True Love by Thich Nhat Hahn. As he says, “Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking toward the person you love.”
To learn more, read my post next week. I will review this amazing guide on how to love as part of my Book Club.
While this book shares ideas on how to love better, you can motivate yourself for purely selfish reasons. Love helps your brain to stay younger
Love better. Stay Healthier.
Originally published at memorability.co