First off, let’s all appreciate the irony here. I used technology to compose this article. And unless you’ve hired an assistant to read the internet to you, you’re reading this article on some form of technology.
Ah….the weekend. Over 48 hours of possibilities and opportunities. The chance to sleep, to get outdoors, to spend time with family and friends, to eat good food, to catch up on chores, to enjoy hobbies…
Over the past 15 years or so, neuroscientists have made so many discoveries about the human brain that we are now beginning even to understand connections to the human mind. Yes, there is a tremendous difference between studying the brain and studying the mind. But there is some magic happening (metaphorically, of course) when what we are learning about the physical brain is intersecting with what we have always inferred about the mind.
In Antarctica, Emperor Penguins survive temperatures as low as -60 degrees and winds up to 100 mph by huddling together. This is a little odd for these penguins as they are usually very territorial and will not approach each other easily. But without this huddling activity, the frigid cold would sap their energy and they would die. So it really is a good thing that they get over their territorial selves and work together to survive. These penguin huddles can number in the hundreds or thousands and is truly amazing to watch in real time. (Video credit: PBS)
The more brain research we do at Rewire, the more we have found that, similar to our penguin friends, we humans also need each other -- not only to survive, but to thrive. When we experience a feeling of belonging or of safety in numbers, there is a chemical called oxytocin that is responsible for that. Oxytocin is released in our brains when we are connected with others. For example, oxytocin spurts when others remember our name or when we collaborate on a successful project with others at work or even when the people closest to us give us a hug. It turns out that oxytocin makes us feel good and we continually seek more of it. This is why we seek out social alliances such as teams, political groups, hobby associations, etc. And on the negative side, it is also why some humans attach so easily to gangs or religious cults. Even unhealthy associations are connections with others and oxytocin does not judge something good or bad, it just releases in your brain and makes you feel good.
So you may be asking “Great Jason, but what do penguins and this chemical oxytocin really have to do with one another and how does any of this help me get to where I want to go in my life or in my business?” Well, I’m glad you asked…
You see, if we want to get better at something, make more sales, be healthier or happier than we currently are today, then being in community with one another will help. Heck, there is even research showing that those of us with healthy relationships live longer. Check out more about this little factoid here in a report from the Harvard Medical School No matter where it is that you want to go or what it is that you want to change or improve on, there are people out there that can help you and want to help you. When you connect with those people, oxytocin will be released which will make you feel good, socially trusted, and connected. And when you feel socially trusted and connected, you are more likely to make the positive change you seek. See my intricate chart below which illustrates this point:
Oh, and let’s not forget our friends the Emperor Penguins, who remind us that while our community of people will indeed help us with all those positive changes we want to make, they could also keep us warm!
Author's Note: Thanks to my daughter, Julia, for the idea behind this article. As I drove her to school this morning, I told her that I was going to write an article for The Wireboard and asked her what I should write about. She said, “I think you should write about how people can Rewire........ or penguins.” Thanks, Julia.