Love Improves Health and Longevity

Research on Love and Health

Research on love and relationships show that engaging in deep and calming love in marriage helps us to:

Have a higher immunity system.
Lower rates of heart disease and other chronic illness.
Reduces anxiety.
Helps us live longer.
Allows us to manage stress longer.

The key aspects of health benefits occur when we are:

Fully open to receiving and giving love.
Giving and feeling supported by engaging in emotional intimacy and deep connectivity.
Soothed and inspired by interactions that facilitate growth and expand the heart.

Thus, platonic and altruistic love might also help benefit health just as romantic love does.

Yet, how many times have you found yourself hesitant to invest fully in expressing or receiving love? Often times we hold back because of:

Fears that we will be rejected.
Fears about being criticized.
Concerns that we somehow do not measure up to others’ expectations.
Insecurities that make us feel that others will not value us and reciprocate feelings.
Lack of energy to invest fully in giving to others or to receive fully.
Fears of losing love once we allow ourselves to feel it.

An expansive heart gives to others even in moments when it is not necessarily convenient to give or when one is not guaranteed that love will be returned. An expansive heart is one that is self aware and aligned with truths.

It is the act of openness and thoughtfulness that nourishes the heart in a selfless way, for when we take ego and fear out of the mix and express love from a space without agendas, our hearts and spirits stretch and grow in new ways.

While some researchers find a correlation between calm, loving marital relationships and higher levels of health, other researchers are considering the health benefits gained by individuals who are single, such as the Dalai Lama, who are engaging in deep altruistic love and connecting profoundly by giving selflessly to people.

Certainly, this kind of selfless love is also valuable in benefiting health-the act of creating spiritual communities and connecting intimately with others through altruistic acts creates significant physical and mental benefits.

Ester M. Sternberg, a researcher a research professor who authored The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions (Freeman, 2001), concluded that altruistic expressions of love may:

Suppress disease activity.
Activate an immune response that is healthful.
Reduce stress and anxiety.
Reduce chronic pain (the sense of giving releases endorphins, chemicals in the body that block pain).
Improves mental outlook and energy levels.

The effects of altruism on a happy mood are well documented medically. Dr. Kathleen Hall, a world renowned expert in stress and founder of The Stress Institute, says that “Altruism creates a physiological responses or ‘helpers high’ that makes people feel stronger and more energetic and counters harmful effects of stress.”

Thus, expressing love altruistically may have as much of a health benefit as experiencing love in the context of longer term, married, romantic relationships.

How can we expand our heart energies and capacities to share love in ways that increase our health benefits?

(1) Engage in qi gong that is focused on energetically and spiritually opening the heart

The National Qi Gong Association’s free “Healing Wave” video online has a segment called “Open Heart Qi” that is very useful with movements that emphasize opening the heart center.

(2) Practice going out of your way to engage kind or loving behaviors. Any of us can say we are loving people, but do our actions truly reflect that? Are we willing to give love even when it is inconvenient or requires personal sacrifice?

Assess your behaviors of terms of how willing you are to invest in building loving relationships. Ask yourself:

When was the last time, I went out of my way to give special flowers for someone to simply bring joy?
When have I last taken time to prepare a special nourishing meal for someone?
When did I last plan an excursion to uplift someone’s spirit?
When did I actively seek to build new loving relationships?

Often times we are willing to do what is convenient and comfortable for us to express love, but the deeper benefits of stretching the heart come from those moments that are willing to go that extra mile to extend ourselves.

(3) Actively surround yourself with other loving people who are natural givers, and who enjoy investing love into other people.

When we surround ourselves with such people, there is a synergy that occurs from the dynamic of love going back and forth-it is this synergy that researchers are studying in married couples and concluding that such interactions are beneficial to health-but remember, that synergy can also occur among people who are single and expressing love.

There is Actually Only One Way to Express True Love – Mental Health Research

What is the purpose of life? The only purpose that makes rational sense is to express love to all living entities. All other purposes are bound to be selfish, with a “getting” motive attached. The experience of true love seems to happen rarely on our planet, as indicated by the negative conditions of people and situations worldwide. The quality of our well-being and mental health depends on our willingness to express love to the life around us.

Many may be shocked to discover that true love is not a personal resource. I have no love of my own, nor do you, or anyone else. There is only one way we can express true love to the life around us, that is by consistently acting on what is truly right.

Here is another shocker; to act rightly a person cannot be acting selfishly. That means that he or she cannot be acting from a selfish or self-seeking intention. It means that a person cannot be in a selfish controlling or manipulative mode, and cannot be acting to get something for self.

The expression of true love requires that our intentions be pure; that we be sincerely will to give with no strings attached. We must also be willing to act in lovingly responsible ways, which includes being willing to express truth as we know it in appropriate ways. In a selfish environment, the expression of truth can sometimes be dangerous so discretion is in order.

At the heart of the process of expressing true love is a sincere willingness to express love. Without that willingness, whatever comes forth shall be some form of selfish action.

Here is an analogy:

Think of a human being as a “garden hose,” and his or her will as the “faucet” attached to the side of a house. The “water” is love.

In order for us to experience or express love, we must open our personal “faucet” (will) and be willing to allow water to flow (express love). When we are willing to express love, “water” flows through us and we feel good (we experience love). In addition, those around us get “wet” (are loved).

On the other hand, when we selfishly and defiantly refuse to express love, we keep our personal “faucet” shut so that no “water” can flow through us. Like an unused garden hose left out in the sun, it soon dries out and begins to decay.

The expression of love is vital to every person’s well-being. []

Neil Mastellone, working with his co-researcher Jean Mastellone, has been actively investigating the causes of negative human behavior.

Men’s Mental Health Issues

Since it is often hard for a man to share his feelings, it is important to find a therapist that you are comfortable sharing with. If you feel comfortable by the end of the first session, then you are with the right therapist. If you are not comfortable, it is okay to shop for another one.

Many men mask their vulnerable feelings with anger. Men have been taught to be tough and protective of others. Consequentially, if you feel sad, scared, or your feelings are hurt you cover it with anger. Many men believe that it is unmanly or weak to cry, look scared, or care what others think, so they express anger instead. It is healthy to be objective and ask yourself what you are really feeling. Your therapist can help with this.

Men have friends who they play sports, fish, or hunt with but would not talk to about their concerns. It is important to have at least one or two friends whom you can share your personal concerns with. This could include concerns about work, your family, your kids, your ambitions. Ideally, you could have at least one male friend and one female friend. This could include family members and your spouse.

When men get upset, what’s the first thing they do besides yell? You may go out and run, tinker with the car, or pack the fishing gear. Often you do not want to talk immediately. It is okay to do an activity first as long as you then talk to a trusted person.

If you are asked what’s wrong as soon as you get upset you may not want to talk immediately. However, keep in mind that the person only wants to help. A good compromise would be to politely tell them that you don’t want to talk now but you will talk later. This works as long as you really do approach them later and share.

You rarely if ever see one man approaching another and saying “You hurt my feelings.” We just don’t express ourselves that way. There are ways to express yourself without feeling embarrassed about your vulnerability. In men’s groups, when the members get comfortable, they begin to trust each other.

There are many men who still think that they are supposed to handle everything and any expression of vulnerability is an assault on their manhood. It makes more sense to believe that part of being a man is to have your full range of feelings and express them comfortably. You are not weak just because you express your feelings.

Men can benefit from therapy when they have the right attitude and keep an open mind about it. If you follow the leads from this article, it can help you get the help that you need and maximize your use of therapy.