Positively Speaking Blog

Love Changes The Brain: Why Loving Your Work is Vital To Well-Being

All February long I’ve been blogging about how the majority of people in the world (statistics say 87%) spend most of their working lives in a state of unhappiness. That’s just way too much misery.

The work we do has a significant impact on our health and well-being. If we spend more hours working than on any other single activity, our well-being depends on having a healthy relationship with our job.

For that reason alone, it’s imperative that we like what we do. But it would be even better to love it.

Why?

In the last few years, Neuroscience has been examining what happens to the brain when we fall in love. The benefit of having  “that lovin’ feeling” in our lives is overwhelmingly positive.

No doubt you’ll agree.

A 2010 brain imaging study suggests that 12 different areas of the brain are activated by love (Ortigue et al., 2010). Together these brain regions release a cocktail of feel-good chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin and adrenaline. This is the equivalent to a “small dose of cocaine,” says psychologist and author Jeremy Dean. It’s no wonder we say we’re “on cloud 9.” Being in love is literally a “buzz.”All month I’ve asked people to tell me about the downsides of what they do. Each of them has indicated that there can be many less than ideal aspects of their work, but that their passion for what they do keeps them motivated.

That’s because when the brain’s “love chemicals” are stimulated, the brain’s reward center distributes chemical messages that motivate us to overlook or overcome any obstacles standing between us and what we love. When we’re in love, our brains see past the bad stuff! That’s known as the honeymoon effect.

But it goes further than that.

Passionate love fuels the brain to focus attention and increases empathy to foster social harmony. It also serves to suppress activity in areas of the brain where grieving, fear and anxiety occur. Yes, that’s right. Being in love is the proverbial “chill pill.” It makes us happy, cooperative and focused.

That’s why I’ve been jumping up and down all month talking about the importance of loving your work. That “lovin’ feeling” offers a fountain of inspiration that keeps you focused on your goals. It also stimulates motivation, improves how you see yourself and others, and keeps your eye on the bigger rewards. And here’s a little secret: those love chemicals also improve our body imagea big bonus!

So if you’re currently in a job that makes you unhappy, review the great advice from our How To Fall in Love With Work panel, and get a move on. It’s still early in the year. Make 2014 the year you initiate positive changes in your working life so you can get the most from your working hours.

Ignite your passion, find your purpose, and live your dreams! 

Go on. If the women on our panel can, so can you.

To help others be happier, share this with someone you know who might be struggling in a job that’s not right for them. It will lift their spirits and activate their happy brain chemicals.

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