Cause nothing ever gonna make this world better If we don’t start believin’, That love really really really is the answer, . . . Spread the love ~ Kenny Chesney
It’s showing up regularly on my Facebook feed: “Spread the Love.” Yes, it’s a popular song by Kenny Chesney. But not all the posts are sharing the music. Others are sharing the sentiment: Spread the love.
Facebook taps into the emotional pipeline of our culture. There are certainly hateful, sad and angry posts put up by hateful, sad and angry people. But there are many more posts that share and plead for understanding, kindness and love of self and others. Good and evil. Right and wrong. It’s an age-old debate. It’s up to each of us to decide which side wins our heart and mind.
I’m for the love. Anything that helps build community, peace and goodwill is healthier for us as individuals and for our world as a whole. Whether as a song, slogan, bumper sticker or Facebook post, “spread the love” reminds us to stay on the side of positivity and hope.
Below are six reasons to spread the love:
- It’s good for you psychologically. Research shows that people who are positive in their approach to others and to life in general are less likely to be depressed or anxious. Why? Because people who have an optimistic and positive view of life are better able to manage stress. When faced with an inconvenience or crisis, those who are connected positively with others don’t sink into despair. They turn to their support system and focus on what they can do about it. They have a solid foundation of self-love that gives them a “can do” approach to the problems that life inevitably hands out to everyone. They know that love grows when it is shared. Studies have shown that people who spread the love by volunteering are less likely to be lonely or depressed.
- It’s good for you physically. Your mind and body are one integrated whole. When we are with people we love, the body releases hormones, such as oxytocin and dopamine, that generate feelings of trust, pleasure and closeness. When we expand those loving feelings to the greater world, we actually improve the prognosis if we should develop cancer or heart disease.
Research has shown that belief in the essential goodness in the world contributes to a healthy immune system. Further, the Mayo Clinic reports that people who live life from the heart live longer and are less vulnerable to diseases of the heart (cardiovascular problems). Other studies show that those who volunteer to help others have lower blood pressure. It seems that people who spread the love are more likely to take care of themselves and others by adopting healthier lifestyles.
- It attracts others to you. When you spread the love, the love comes back to you many times over through loving relationships. People feel good when they are with someone who is upbeat and energetic. They don’t feel as good when they are with a Debbie Downer who always sees the dark cloud around the silver lining.
In her poem, “Solitude,” 19th-century poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox penned the phrase: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” She didn’t mean that we will be abandoned when we are truly grieving. Her poem ponders how difficult it is to know what to do when another person is sad but how easy it is to be with those who are cheerful. Another less-quoted line from the same poem is “Be glad and your friends are many.”
- It creates safety. Love, whether the romantic variety or a general feeling of love and care for humankind, is manifested by attachment and caring. When people love, they want to help, encourage and even rescue those who are in their orbit. People who spread the love want to relieve the suffering of others however they can. They are the first responders, the helpful neighbors and the volunteers who weave the safety net in our communities. They are not interested in building walls. Instead, they build bridges.
- It invites positive things to enter your life. It’s quite remarkable. A positive attitude does tend to invite positive things. It’s not really magic. People notice what they care about at the time. If you buy a new red car, chances are you are going to notice all the other red cars on the road. Pregnant women start to notice how many other pregnant women are in the mall.
If we are mired in negativity, we will see things that confirm that point of view. When we are on the lookout for kindness and love, we are more likely to see evidence of both. When we are optimistic, we are more likely to spot promising opportunities and more likely to take reasonable risks.
- It counteracts hate. Hate is grounded in fear. When people don’t feel safe, they flee or fight or become immobilized. They develop the mindset that there isn’t enough of whatever they value to go around, so they hoard and defend and isolate themselves from others. They unite with others who are equally afraid so they are not regularly confronted with information that argues with their point of view.
People who spread the love feel confident in their ability to cope. As a result, they can reach past fear to love and understanding. Differences in opinion are interesting, not threatening. They turn outward instead of inward, looking for new resources, new information, and new and solvable ways to address a problem. It is these loving people who will solve the problems of those who are bent on hate.
The Dalai Lama sums it up well, saying, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Spread the love.