Love is a painkiller

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in” — Mitch Albom, novelist and newspaper columnist for the Detroit Free Press, in Tuesdays with Morrie.

One reason love is important is that it may help alleviate pain.  According to a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine published online in 2010 at PLoS ONE, love may alleviate pain in the same way narcotic painkillers do.

Pictures of participants’ own romantic partners were displayed to them to reliably evoke self-reported feelings of love.  Several earlier animal studies have shown reward-processing regions of the brain to be involved in pain relief. In this study, viewing pictures of a romantic partner activated reward regions of the brain during periods of pain. Activity decreases were observed in pain-processing regions of the brain.

When in pain, get busy loving.

So, how can we nurture giving out love and letting in love? Perhaps you’ve heard of making a “gratitude list”. You make a mental (or written) list of things you’re grateful for. You can take this a bit further and make what I call a “love list”. You make a mental list in which you think of people you know and then think of why you love them.

This is fairly easy to do for those closest to us. But then extend this list to friends, neighbors, and others. As you add someone to your mental “love list”, take a moment to feel love for them.

Love them!

And while you’re making your “love list”, with an honest, humble, unselfish love, add yourself to your list.

Oh – and by the way, you’re on God’s “love list”!

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