When people visit Thailand I often hear them make mention, “love is in the air”. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the warm balmy breeze that flows across the Andaman Sea as many gaze into. Losing them to wanderlust of emotion. Our tropical setting surely must give way to striking the old hearts strings and yes, love does seem to be in the air.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the subject of love. Surely there is much to be said about this incredible four letter word; love. From euphoric to painful, love has been around since the dawn of time, and its definition has remained virtually unchanged.
What is love?

Many people argue that love is a feeling; others say it is an actual emotion. Yet, there are those who strongly believe that love has nothing to do with either of these things because love is a type of action, like sacrifice. We even call events like intercourse, “love-making,” even though love and sex are not quite as intertwined in today’s society as it was a long time ago. Then there are those who will swear that love is energy, or a force, all on its own. So which definition is right?

Across the globe, people express love in different ways because of cultural and demographical differences. One thing that can be seen throughout the different spectrums of love is that love is often shown through acts of passion, kindness and generosity. From parent to child, lover to lover, friend to friend, sister to brother, or a good Samaritan to a person in need, the acts that define love can be clearly seen.

It may seem that love is a feeling that drives these actions, but the euphoric feeling of love isn’t always present in all of these situations. Take the Good Samaritan for example. One stranger does not need to experience the euphoria of love in order to perform a random act of kindness for another stranger. Does that mean love is not present? Or perhaps love is a part of the Samaritan’s character, one that is demonstrated through his or her kindness and generosity. The same applies to any relationship that is strained, yet sacrifices of love are still made in honor of those relationships, like a frustrated parent and a rebellious child for example. Still, we feel love and extreme passion for others from time to time and this drives us to actions and displays of love as well. It is this feeling that keeps us thinking about the people we love long after they are gone from our lives.

It is pretty evident that love may be a complex combination of all of these things.

Whatever love is, we need it.

Love is a complicated subject, though it is still somehow universally understood. We feel it and respond to it from the moment we come into existence. Children respond to love from the time they are in the womb. Without sufficient love in a child’s life, they often grow up with mental, emotional and even physical health related issues.

The commonly known “feel-good” hormone, endorphins, is triggered and released when we experience love, which aids in reducing stress and relieving pain. That is why we crave to loved and held at times of pain or grief. The body also releases oxytocin when experiencing loving physical contact, another major “feel-good” chemical. Oxytocin is also a stress reducer and sleep enhancer.

Not only does love cause us to release endorphins, but physical contact and feelings of love boost the human immune system. During times of physical engagement and loving embraces, the body releases a chemical called immunoglobulin, which is our body’s main defense against illnesses like the common cold.

Love also cures certain mental illnesses, where these particular sufferers have delved into insanity or mental illness because of feelings of insignificance or irrelevance. Love gives people that feeling of importance, that they matter to someone and that they are not alone.

This is significant, because humans are similar to pack-animals. We thrive in groups and family units. How we treat and interact with one another has a great effect on a person’s overall wellbeing. This is why actions of love and feelings of love are so necessary for a healthy society.

When love isn’t thereIn situations where love is not present in either feeling or action, negative effects become pronounced. People, who often spend too much time in isolation, spend time with people who are unkind or do not experience the love that they need, often develop severe symptoms and even illnesses.

Love KrabiAgain, many mental illnesses and emotional dysfunctions are caused by the lack of love in a person’s life. For example, a man who grows up without the love of a parent risks being unable to become a loving parent one day, much less a loving partner in a stable relationship. Most emotional deficiencies are caused by the lack of love.

Most people who grow up to become abusers have either been abused themselves or have experienced the need for love that was not met at certain, crucial points in their lives. Also, people who have been cured from abusive and other destructive tendencies have found love in their lives, in some form or another.

People who grow up with a lack of love tend to become destructive individuals, to themselves and to other members of society. The lack of self-esteem or self-appreciation is often irritated if not caused by feelings that one is not loved. The idea that “no one loves me, therefore I must not be worthy of love” is something that those with low self-esteems often conclude.

When it comes to self-esteem and love, it should be obvious that a person does not need another person to help one love his or her self. Yet, somehow, nature goes against this logic. When a person feels unloved, their ability to love themselves also tends to decrease.

In fact, in a relationship where one lover is unkind to another, the unloved partner will suffer extremely low self-esteem and a weakened immune system. Studies have shown that in relationships where one person is meaner to the other, the other’s immune system becomes weak and unable to fight off cancers and other viruses. In other words, being mean and withholding love can actually kill your partner.

Let there be love

This look at love barely scratches the deep and complex subject of love, but the basic idea is there. Love is a feeling, love is an emotion, love is a choice, love is an action and love is energy. It can be felt, experienced, given, demonstrated, chosen or even withheld, rejected and abused. Whatever it is, we cannot deny that it is real. We need it for our mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual well-being. We need it in order for societies to thrive and for humans to continue to exist. Without love, we will just destroy ourselves and each other.

This year, let love be an underlying theme in your life. Choose it even when you don’t necessarily “feel” it, like a parent who unconditionally loves their kid. Besides, love is one of those things that grows. When you give it, it comes back and it comes back ten-fold. When you show and exercise your love muscles, they only get stronger. Being loving will make love become a part of your overall character, and the more love you share, the more you will attract.

The simplest way you can show someone love this year is by choosing to be kind, even when you don’t feel like it. That is where your generosity and grace kicks in, but that is where the strength of love lies.

So be kind, be generous and be love. It’s good for your health and it’s good for society.

by Zina Docto

Zina is the founder of “i AM WOMAN”: Educating woman to discover their health and beauty from the inside out: overcome weight issues, sickness and disease.

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