Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 29, 2013

THE GOOD LIFE: All we need is love

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

We are profoundly social creatures and have an irresistible need for relationships. We are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to connect with others — to love, to be loved and to belong.

Relationships come in different packages. Mutual benefit relationships embody some form of a transaction,a give and take, such as our relationship with a sales clerk. 

A more engaged relationship has a shared aim. We interact with others to do something that we cannot or do not want to do on our own. Congregations, work places, volunteer organizations, the military, teaching, healing, and most organizational relationships have a shared aim. We work with each other to get the job done.

Relationships based on emotional interactions are found within families and between friends. These intimate relationships are the ones that offer us the most joy and love and can inflict the most suffering. We have healthy emotional relationship with another when we can feel comfortable being with that person and have the sense that we could tell them anything. You are there for each other in times of trouble and for celebrations.

Having strong emotional relationships are the ones that have the most influence on our well-being. Researchers report that the healthy emotional relationships are a greater detriment to our well-being than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Such relationships help us recover from disease faster and may even lengthen our life.

People who feel more emotionally connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Studies show the socially connected have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative, and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Conversely, stress due to conflict in relationships leads to increased inflammation levels in the body.

Researchers have found that introverts get just as much of a boost from being with other people as extroverts do. People who have a smaller number of close relationships can be just as happy as outgoing people with large numbers of acquaintances. The important thing is to cultivate a network of people you are close to — not how large that network is.

We may think we want money, power, fame, beauty, eternal youth or a new car. But at the root of most of these desires is a need to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others and to be loved.

“And in the end,” as the Beatles said, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

May you find what I have reported interesting and something you can use in your life. I invite you to email me your thoughts (lgorenflo@gmail.com.)