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It’s the week of celebrating love. Valentine’s. Yes, you could roll your eyes at the commercialism of it all. You could sigh with contempt at the thought of a giant stuffed animal and a box of chocolates being tantamount to a true expression of love. Or, you could take a deeper look into love itself and contemplate all its complexities. There’s much to be said about the effects of love on our well-being and outlook on life.

Whether it be romantic, platonic friendship, or a love between a parent and a child, the truth is that love is a gift. We all need it. We all need to feel it. We cannot become our best selves without it. From our very first moments, love impacts every aspect of life. In fact, one study’s findings suggest that a “loving relationship may also prevent the rise in biomarkers indicative of disease risk across numerous physiological systems, impacting adverse health outcomes decades later”. The effects of love on our health is staggering.

It’s easy to see how romantic love affects us. Physiologically speaking, that head-over-heels kind of love is pretty much just elevated levels of the hormone dopamine in the brain. Believe it or not, the same thing happens with heroin or cocaine consumption. In the most literal terms, we’re becoming addicted to that person. It also increases your ability to focus, reduces your perception of pain, and makes us more creativeWhen we’re in love, we will do just about anything to be near the person who holds our affection. We are theirs and they are ours. Life does not seem complete without them. 

The same can be said of true, intimate friendships. Even though there may not be romantic feelings involved, that deep connection between friends can be palpable. According to research, friends become increasingly important to health and happiness as people age. These relationships are so important that having supportive friendships in old age was found to be a stronger predictor of well-being than even having strong family connections.

Love is crucial for our health. It doesn’t have to be googly-eyed, puppy love that is celebrated. It can be the deeply rooted connections we have with those in our lives whom we deem to be indispensable. Love takes many forms and has many faces and is felt in many different ways.

Even though you may not be a fan of the commercialized version of love that is being celebrated this week, you can relish in the fact that you are deeply loved by a Savior who traded His throne room for a cross. He loved us so we could love in return. He loved us so much that He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving us alone—without hope, without His love.

If there was ever a reason to celebrate love, it’s that.

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