Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘Friendship’

The Case for Slowing Down in 2015

The Case for Slowing Down in 2015

Research has shown that it takes 25 minutes for the average person to mentally recover from a single phone call or other such interruption during work. The problem is, research has also shown that these sorts of interruptions occur in our daily lives every 11 or so minutes. So when you’re halfway de-stressed from one interruption, another one comes blundering along into your life. It’s like consistently getting 4 hours of sleep when your body craves 8; it’s going to catch up with you — and it’s not going to be pretty.

Chronic, unrelenting stress is dangerous to our health, happiness, and longevity, being at the root of myriad chronic diseases and imbalances. But the benefits of reducing stress and slowing down in life are universal:

-increased happiness and enjoyment of life

-better, deeper focus

-less tension and and stress-induced musculoskeletal imbalances    

Small life changes, like reducing an addiction to technology, can help you experience less stress in your daily life, and deal with stressors more healthily when they do come thundering along.

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Take a card from the techies at Google: take a technology sabbath. Shut your electronics off for one day or an entire weekend. Read books, play games with your family, go outdoors, experience creativity-inducing boredom.  

Even if you don’t have the luxury to take a technology sabbath, you can still slow down your daily routine. Make yourself a hearty homemade breakfast instead of rushed buttered toast, and give yourself the time to mindfully enjoy it. Eat dinner with your family without checking your phone midway. Listen to the sounds of birds instead of blasting music on your walk to the local cafe. Every little bit helps. Here are 4 additional ways to slow your life down:  

1. Do a few important things instead of many trivial things

2. Leave early for events so you don’t have to rush.

3. Practice basic meditation for 5-25 minutes a day. Become comfortable with ‘doing nothing’. It has been scientifically proven to reduce stress.

4. Spend as much time as you can in nature, undistracted; even if all you can spare is just one day a month. It revitalizes you.

5. Eliminate what is unnecessary in your life — people, technology, fragile furnishings, et cetera; anything that requires trivial efforts, causes stress, or serves no function.  “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” Thoreau  

We are bombarded by facts and information in our everyday lives — so much so that it is impossible to absorb more than a fraction of it. Slow down and let yourself learn, hear, and see new things. Stop opening your browser window; slow down and open yourself up to the world.    

By Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! 

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 
    Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes! 

Member International Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn   www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.google.com/+HealthyhighwayOrg

join ~ www.google.com/+LeesaWheeler

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

skpe ~ healthyhighway

8 Habits to Ditch & Embrace in 2015

8 Habits to Ditch & Embrace in 2015

Stop feeling guilty. We spend a considerable amount of thought-energy on guilt — and where does it get us? It doesn’t solve problems; it ironically worsens them by building up stress which takes an incredible toll on your body and mind. Instead, take a proactive approach to life and improve the situation. Don’t just sit around feeling sorry for yourself. No matter how bad you feel today, tomorrow is always a new day, and a new chance to live better.     

Accept yourself as you are. You are imperfect. Deal with it. Everyone is flawed in myriad ways. Thinking that you’re somehow any worse than anyone else is incorrect. Everyone makes mistakes. But, by practicing confidence and self-acceptance, you will exude the illusion of ‘togetherness’ that everyone is striving to achieve. Heck, you may even start to fool yourself!      

Exercise, meditate, and eat natural foods. No one’s telling your to try and win the next Ironman competition, but these 3 pillars are pivotal to a healthy, happy lifestyle. Think about it as a trifecta: Some gentle, fun exercise every day keeps you young; 5 or 10 minutes of meditation will nix your chronic stress; wholesome, natural foods will help your body function the way it was meant to. Start incorporating these into your life, bit by bit, week by week, and notice how much better you feel. Your body will love you for it.    

Embrace your dreams. Everyone has dreams. But, for most, that’s where they stay. Make your dreams reality this year; they’re not impossible. Make a realistic, step-by-step timetable to help you achieve your wildest, most desired dreams. It may take an entire year — it may take 10 — but you’ll be pursuing your dreams and enjoying the experience instead of just letting them flit about and wither within your mind.   

Stop fearing the unknown. Take chances this year. Fear of the unknown is what squashes most dreams. Comfort is overrated; try something you’ve never done before. Get out there. You may just discover a whole new dimension to yourself! What’s the worst that can happen? 

Stop stressing about money. Again, stressing only worsens the situation. Instead, do something about it. Be proactive. Financial stress can make you miserable. Figure out a way to deal with it and trust that, with effort, it will all work out in the end. You’ll feel the load on your shoulders lighten considerably. 

Do things that make you feel strong and independent. This is especially true if you are in a long-term relationship with loved ones and friends. We can get so comfortable and dependent on our partners and comrades that we lose a bit of ourselves — that beautiful, spunky spark. This year, take chances and rediscover yourself out on your own. Take a solo trip, delve into a new class by yourself, talk to interesting new people. It will bring further dimension and excitement into your life — and your relationships.       

Let go of negativity. The counterclockwise whirlpool of your mind can suck even your most intrinsic happiness and positivity out of you if you allow it. The beautiful thing is: you’re in control. You can cut the branches of negative thought off at the source. Most of what we experience in life is heavily influenced by the mind, meaning you have the power to alter and improve your experiences through positive thinking. Kick out negativity and negative words like ‘can’t’, ‘no’, ‘won’t’, ‘too hard’, and all the rest. Negativity is simply a waste of precious, beautiful time. 

2015 is the year to make yourself into what you want to be. Carve your own path and thrive in the positivity and confidence these habits will offer your life. So, go ahead and do it — there’s no better time. It’s all within you.

By Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the back country! 

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 
    Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes! 

Member International Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn   www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.google.com/+HealthyhighwayOrg

join ~ www.google.com/+LeesaWheeler

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

skpe ~ healthyhighway

Happiness IS Contagious

Study: Happiness IS Contagious

 

It looks like Bobby McFerrin was right when he sang, “don’t worry be happy.” According to a study published in Statistics in Medicine and conducted at Harvard  University and the University of California, happiness is contagious.

That’s good news for friends, neighbors, and spouses of happy people.   The study found that when a person becomes happy, a friend who lives  close to the happy person has a 25 percent higher likelihood of becoming happy  too. The spouse of the happy person has an 8 percent increased chance  of happiness, and the next-door neighbors have a 34 percent  chance. But there’s more.

The researchers conducted a review of other studies, including the ongoing  Framingham Heart Study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.  Upon analysis the scientists not only found that certain relationships are most  impacted by happiness, they propose a theory called the “social contagion  theory” of ”three degrees of influence“ This is where  the study results get exciting. Lead researcher and professor at Harvard Medical  School, Nicholas Christakis, says that “Everyday interactions we  have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.” While  that may seem obvious, he adds that the effect goes well beyond the  people with whom we have direct contact. When one person  becomes happy, the effect can spread by three degrees, which includes friends of  friends.

The researchers assessed people’s responses to survey questions,  including:  “How often during the past week would you say:  ‘I enjoyed  life? I felt hopeful about the future?’”

Of course, happiness may come in waves and, as a result, there are challenges  linked to studying happiness. But, when you consider the belief that there are  only 6 degrees of separation linking people, and that we can influence 3 degrees  of those people, it is quite a remarkable notion that if we make an effort to be truly happy (no, not the fake stuff!) then we can have a profound effect on  those around us.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

 

Is Your Happiness Conditional?

Is Your Happiness Conditional?

 

Did you know that the first day of Spring 2013 was also The first World  International  Happiness Day, declared by the UN to signal the  importance of going beyond  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of  progress. The UN is taking a stand  on happiness! They are saying that we need a better measures of society’s real   wellbeing — including happiness. Right on, UN!

Consider  this outcome of the Gallup  Millennium World Survey: They polled almost  60,000 people in 60 countries,  Gallup ranked ten things that  people said were the most important to their  ability to experience happiness. At the top were health, a happy family life and  a job (a  life’s purpose) while “Standard of Living” (how rich you are compared  to  other people) was one of the least important.

So  this is what I know about happiness.  If you want to be happy you need  to be intentional about it. How are you  creating happiness in your life?  Happiness comes from our own actions. We  actually have to create it, and it can’t be conditional.

Tips on Intentional Happiness:

Is  there something that always bothers  you? Can you put it down for a  while, and take a break from it? Can you be  happy for the joy in  memories and not be sad that they are over, but happy that  whatever it  is, actually happened?

Can you spend so much time working on  your own crap, that you have little time to be critical and mean about others?

Can  you put resources towards your own  happiness creation project? That  means money, time and effort. That means  putting the pleasure in your  own hands, and not waiting for someone else to  give you permission to do  it. Can you stop being sensible about your happiness,  and stop having  to justify it behind disease and wellness? It’s true that  happiness  makes us healthier, but what if we can give ourselves happiness and  good  health is just a side effect?

Do you make happiness conditional?

One of my biggest learnings around happiness happened in the middle of my infertility   experience.

Every month, my happiness became conditional on whether or  not I was  pregnant. I was like those women who live and die by the  scale. If they lose  weight, it’s a good day. If they don’t, they sink  into a deep depression. That  was me and pregnancy.  All month long I  lived on this conditional  possibility of my own happiness. My happiness  could only look one way, and that  was not getting my period. That was a  rough way to live.

Then  in the middle of my great unhappiness came this next revelation: could  I  only be happy if everything always continued to look the way I expected  it  to look? Was there absolutely no room at all in my life for other  kinds of  happiness? Could I never enjoy other peoples’ children or go to  a movie without  thinking about pregnancy? Was there no possibility for  happiness in anything  other than a pregnancy?

I realized that I was living in the land of constant expectation. And  that  expectation set me up for pain, over and over again. It was a  pretty miserable  way to live.

I began to wonder if there were other ways to find this happiness and pleasure that I wanted in my life in between waiting for pregnancy to happen.

This is what I have found: conditional happiness was not a path to  pleasure  and well-being. I shifted my view because I started to realize  that I was  missing out on a lot of love, pleasure and joy with my  current perspective. I  was wasting a lot of really good living in my  very narrow view of what would  make me truly happy.

Often my thoughts would go to what I thought I truly wanted first,  and then  I would have to settle into what was in front of me. With some  practice the  process of being happy with my second pick was getting more  delicious with each  round.

It helped open a path filled with unexpected pleasures that I almost  stomped  away from in my anger over infertility. Silly me. Instead, I  started to be  filled with a new kind of peacefulness that I highly  recommend.  Sure, I  still wanted my babies. And they did come. The good  news is that when they  finally arrived, they came home to a woman that  was more able to receive love  than ever before.

So, when it comes to happiness think about how you look at it.   Are you  intentionally creating happiness in your life? Look at the ways you make your  happiness conditional on certain life events.  Happiness is worth  understanding and creating for yourself and the world around you.

Sometimes, happiness takes a little practice. How do you practice  happiness?

By Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is an Integrative Life Coach Specializing In Women’s  Issues.   Pamela is  also author of the best selling memoir Shameless (Rodale,  Jan 2011), and founder of The American Fertility Association.  Her websites BeingShameless.com and her daily blog, thefertilityadvocate.com, are  a breakfast essential for reporters, writers and  policymakers.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life?   Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!  I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~  www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

6 Ways to Detoxify Your Heart

6 Ways to Detoxify Your Heart

 

 

This time of year, there is info everywhere on how to detoxify your body.  Whatever toxin you want to remove, or part of your body you want to cleanse,  there’s a smoothie for that! Now, I love smoothies, and I believe that physical  detoxification is an essential health practice (especially by eliminating those  toxins to begin with — for my full views you can read Organic Manifesto and Demand Organic!). But I also believe that the most toxic  toxins start in our hearts. And for true health, healing, and happiness that’s  where we need to start. (By the way, I am not a therapist or doctor, just  someone who has personal experience in this area).

The Power of Emotional Healing

Don’t numb it, FEEL it. This is the hardest and first step.  How many different methods do we employ to avoid feeling what we really feel?  Drugs and alcohol are the easiest ways to recognize the numbing effect. But we  can also use food, TV, religion, sports, crafts, or just plain emotional  repression. Yes, emotions can be truly painful, but it’s the pain of living, of  personal growth, of healing. Let yourself feel what’s in your heart. Truly feel  it. Find a safe place and let those feelings wash over you.

Do the forensics and unpeel the layers. Often, what we first  think we are upset about isn’t the true thing that is bothering us. Our emotions  come in layers. The first layer might be anger. I AM ANGRY!!!!!! But when you  peel away the layers, what might truly be driving that is loneliness, or fear,  or hurt. This is where talking with a therapist can really help. Sometimes it  really helps to have someone help us dig out from under all those layers we’ve  covered our hearts in. As a parent, I often find that when a child is cranky or  annoyed, taking time out to sit and talk with them and help them get to the  original feeling can be transformative and enlightening for everyone.

Ask the universe for guidance. Sometimes it can be really  hard to get to the source of what is actually causing us pain or anger. When  that happens, it helps to carve out some quiet time in nature and ask for help.  The universe will often speak back through nature, through “synchronicity,” or  through bringing you teachers, if you are open to it. Sometimes those teachers  come in the form of a book, or a situation and suddenly you realize that yes,  the universe DOES listen! That’s when detoxifying your heart starts to get fun,  because it starts to feel like an adventure.

Replace fear with love. Easier said than done, right? Wrong. It’s easy.  Whenever you feel fear, question it and the situation. Ask yourself, what would  love feel like in this situation instead of fear? The world is filled with  threats and meanness and angry people–but imagine the pain they must be feeling,  the hurt in their hearts! It won’t get any better by adding to it. The key here  is trying to see the world from the other person’s perspective. I think this  gets easier as we age, since we now experience first-hand things our parents  might have felt, for example. It’s like exercise, the more you do it, the easier  it gets. And just like exercise, YOU are the ultimate beneficiary.

Let it out and let it go. This step requires action and the  courage to act, but is key to the healing process. Once you have identified what  is truly the toxin in your heart, the only way to get rid of it is to let it go.  If there is something you need to say to someone. SAY  IT. But say it with love. If there is something you need to do, a change you  need to make, MAKE IT. But make it with love. If there is something you need to  express, but don’t have the words, CREATE IT. But create it with love. Your job  here is not to hurt someone else (although sometimes that happens), but to have  them truly HEAR what you have to say. That doesn’t mean they will change. In  fact, they most certainly won’t. But YOU WILL. You will feel better, lighter,  happier, cleaner.DETOXIFIED!

Forgive yourself. Things will never be perfect. You will  never be perfect. Other people certainly will never be perfect (especially me!).  We will never eliminate every toxin — and in fact, the toxins are there for a  reason — just like all that bacteria in our bodies and world that seems bad and  dirty but in actuality we can’t live without. Every mistake, every wrong action  happened. You can’t change it. All you can do is apologize to the other  person/people and apologize to yourself and vow to learn and grow from it.  That’s living. That’s life! And it’s beautiful in all it’s imperfections, even  ours.

By Maria Rodale

How Eye Contact Affects Our Brains

How Eye Contact Affects Our Brains

 

Did you ever play the Eye Contact Game as a kid? You’re supposed to  sit  directly across from another person and stare into his or her eyes  for as long  as possible while keeping a straight face. I don’t think I  won a single game;  every attempt would end in a fit of nervous giggles.  And as an adult, I feel  even weirder locking eyes with someone for too  long. There’s just something  about prolonged eye contact that makes you  feel vulnerable and exposed, as if  the person looking into your eyes has  access to your inner thoughts and  feelings. A loved one’s lingering  look can trigger a rush of happiness, but too  much eye contact with an  acquaintance or a stranger can bring on sudden  discomfort. How, exactly,  does eye contact affect us, anyway?

The Look of Love That old adage about eyes being the  window to our inner selves  isn’t far from the truth. We can feign a frown or a  smile, but it’s harder to fake expressions from the nose up. A true  smile will produce crow’s feet, and someone  who’s angry will narrow his eyes a  bit, according to body-language  experts. We learn a lot by looking into another  person’s eyes, a  behavior that’s ingrained in us from the start. As babies, we  use  adults’ gazes to figure out what’s worth our attention. In a 2002 study   published in Developmental Psychology, researchers found that  infants  followed people’s eye direction, rather than head direction. Eye  contact also  helps our younger selves with memory recall. Researchers  at MIT discovered that  four-month-olds were more likely to recognize  someone later if he or she made  direct eye contact.

Over time, we learn the difference between eye contact that makes our hearts flutter and eye contact  that makes us cringe internally. Oxytocin, also known  as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, plays a big part in that. It’s a  feel-good chemical that’s released  when we feel bonded with someone,  either emotionally or physically. The release is prompted by a warm hug, holding hands,  falling in love, and so forth. A recent article in Biological  Psychiatry postulated that oxytocin’s the reason we’re so inclined to make   prolonged eye contact with our loved ones. And Dr. Kerstin Uväs-Moberg,  the  author of The Oxytocin Factor, believes that eye contact can  bring  about oxytocin release as well. Perhaps that’s why gazing into the  eyes of  someone you don’t feel emotionally close with can feel so  wrong—the oxytocin  might be there, but it’s not for the right reasons.  It’s also why eye contact  is deemed so essential for couples trying to  reconnect. Looking deeply into  each other’s eyes might rekindle  forgotten feelings.

A Simple Gaze Inspires Complex Behaviors Even if we don’t  appreciate meaningful glances from just anybody, we  do look favorably upon  those who look directly at us. Researchers at  the University of  Aberdeen asked  a group of people to look at two  pictures of faces that were almost  identical—the only difference was  that one face had eyes looking away and the  other’s eyes looked into the  camera, mimicking eye contact. Whether the  subjects smiled or looked  disgusted didn’t make much difference; instead, men  and women found the  faces making eye contact most attractive and likable.  According to the  journal Nature, the brain’s reward center is  activated when one  makes eye contact with a good-looking person. Not only do we  like  looking at attractive people, but it makes us feel even better when they   look our way.

Because eye contact is linked directly to our emotions, it has an  effect on  our behavior, too, as researchers at Tufts University proved.  Study  participants encountered a dime left in a phone booth and were  approached by a  random person claiming it as his or her own. When that  person made eye contact  with the participants, they were more likely to  give back the dime. Having  someone look directly at them made them more  honest, probably because their  inner thoughts—namely, “This dime isn’t  mine”—seemed exposed.

Direct gazes also prompt increased participation from people in groups  because it makes them feel more included. Dr.  Roel Vertegaal, an expert on eye  communication between humans, showed  that the amount of eye contact a person  received during a group  conversation was proportional to how much he or she  participated. Eye  contact also forces us to pay attention more: a 2005 joint  study by the  University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling found  that  viewers remembered what a speaker said better if he looked directly into   the camera at least 30 percent of the time.

This improved attention to detail shifts the other way if  someone’s expected  to answer a question while making eye contact with  someone else, as evidenced  by a University  of Stirling study. Kids  answered questions correctly only 50  percent of the time if they had to  look at someone while doing it; their scores  improved significantly when  they were allowed to avert their gazes. Eye contact  requires so much  mental work that it becomes difficult to think of much else in  the  process. It’s easy when our eyes are focusing on someone we trust and   love; we can concentrate solely on the adoration, instead of on keeping  up a  conversation. But most of us can’t even look into an acquaintance’s  eyes and  keep a straight face, let alone attempt complex problem  solving.

Use Eye Contact with Discretion Eye contact can help us  feel incredibly bonded or incredibly creeped  out, depending on the person in  view. It can make people more honest or  make them appear more attractive. It  has the power to enhance memory or  cause us to forget everything else but the  irises in front of us. Think of how many people we lock eyes with on a daily   basis, be it at the grocery store or during a conversation with a  coworker.  It’s a wonder we can get anything done!

Luckily, there’s a social difference between strangers and loved  ones when  it comes to eye contact time limits. A certain amount is  necessary for social  functioning (how weird is it when the person you’re  talking to refuses to look  you in the eyes?), but anything more than  that gets far too close for comfort.  Though we do it all the time, eye  contact is clearly one of the most intimate  behaviors we engage in. We  may look into people’s eyes throughout the day, but  we reserve the  prolonged kind of gazing for those we keep closest to our  hearts.

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women  come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability,  and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by  writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real  women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re  discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel  and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

 

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