Love is the bridge between you and everything. This one phrase—penned by the noted 13th century Sufi mystic and poet Rumi—is precisely what brain science now reveals and what timeless spiritual traditions always knew. We are wired for love and connection. Love is the sacred bridge that connects you to the world.
Love does more than rejoice the heart and warm the soul, it also powerfully benefits your brain. It’s a key concept that I look forward to sharing with you in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain. So potent is the drive for love and social bonding that in their absence, something remarkable happens in your brain, body, and being.
The pain felt when you lack love or healthy human contact is processed in shared regions of your brain that regulate physical pain. What does that mean? Your brain experiences equally the pain from a broken bone, a broken heart, and broken bonds. Prolonged social and emotional pain are shown to impair immune system function and DNA replication—two leading factors for disease and decreased lifespan.
Conversely, the more you cultivate love and meaningful relationships—not just romantic—the happier and healthier you become. Love is also what cultivates the 4 Cs of a Happy Brain—Comfort, Contribution, Connection, and Compassion. From the perspective of brain science:
1) Love gives us comfort in times of strife.
2) Love acts as a form of contribution allowing us to express our calling and purpose in the world.
3) Love provides deep and nurturing connection to others in our life.
4) Love teaches us the gift of compassion and the ability to empathize the suffering of others.
As I share in Science of a Happy Brain: “The drive to know you are loved, valued, and cared for by others is just as fundamental to your health and happiness as are the importance of food, water, warmth, and sleep.” It all goes back to how the human brain evolved as a “social organ” for connection and caring.
Rumi was right! Love does connect you to everything and everyone. Learn more about “Love on the Brain.”