Wednesday, January 24, 2007

So on a happier note

Boot Camp continues successfully. Eating better, drinking more water, getting ready for the beach next week. I picked up a copy of AARP magazine(!) at the gym and found some really great stuff. Can't wait until I'm old enough to subscribe in . . . oh, about another five months. Sigh.

There's an article in the Jan-Feb 2007 issue discussing a book by Daniel Goleman Ph.D., author of 1995's Emotional Intelligence. His new book, out soon, is called Social Intelligence.

Goleman suggests that our brains are interlooped and interconnected and that one brain will take its cues from another. He says "The brain itself is social ~ that's the most exciting finding. One person's inner state affects and drives the other person. We're forming brain-to-brain bridges, a two-way traffic system, all the time. We actually catch each other's emotions like a cold."

He continues by saying "If we're in toxic relationships with people who are constantly putting us down, this has actual physical consequences." By the same token, positive interactions prompt the body to secrete oxytocin, which boosts the immune system and decreases stress hormones generated by negative interactions.

I really like this, maybe because it confirms what I've long suspected (though not in those scientific terms). It is natural to take on a little of the feeling when someone we love is feeling blue. It's natural, too, to pick up on the excitement and joy of those closest to us.

It also explains to me that absolute joyous transcendant experience that sometimes occurs on a crowded dance floor at 3:00 a.m., and it explains how seeing someone crying and in pain can bring me down. Goleman says "It is critical that we stop treating people as objects or as functionaries who are there to give us something. This can range from barking at telephone operators to the sort of old-shoe treatment that long-term partners often use in relationg to each other (talking at, rather than to, each other). We need a richer human connection."

Goleman blames technology for a breakdown in this necessary rich communication, quoting T. S. Eliot on the television: [The television] permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.

Let's all turn off the TV, look at each other and smile. It's infectious, happiness, and despite the existence of folks like that miserable Donnie Davies, there's more good in this world than bad, and more love than hate. My brain's sending out love signals today. Hope yours is too.

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Anonymous Lynn said...

I suppose this explains my recent migraines. I so need to get out of my job--my boss has no social intelligence!

January 24, 2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We get AARP's magazine. My man is 55. Not that bad, although I'll never forgive their front-page puff piece on Condi Rice.

Normally that would be a disqualification. But look at what passes for news judgment in The New York Times these days!

Freddy, P'town

January 24, 2007 11:25 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

AARP? I'm still pissed about them caving to the Bush administration. I will probably cave myself eventually and join just for the camp value. As for working out, I'll just keep on as best I can until I feel like I can kick some ass again. This cold has to go away eventually. Oh if it makes you feel better, it's currently 23 degrees here in Boston and is only suppose to get colder.

January 25, 2007 6:18 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

Even better news - you can raise your own EQ while being aware of others ... :->

Glad to see you linked from JMG.

January 25, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Wonderful post. I loved the sentence that included "transcendent feeling at 3:00 am on the dance floor..."

I think, besides the loneliness phenomenon that seems rampant and technologically spawned, our dependence upon online communication has also retarded our ability to be empathetic and perceptive in our relationships. It's a lot easier to go for the jugular in an online relationship than a face to face one, and we've turned forming friendships and romance into a cut and dry, either you're great or you're not worth my time sort of situation. There's no room for nuance and sensitivity anymore, and that's a very sad thing.

January 25, 2007 9:59 PM  

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