Researchers are discovering that the feeling of pleasure is different from the feeling of fulfilling a need and being rewarded – and it involves activity in completely different areas of the brain.
You know the feeling of pleasure, for instance when you wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep, just before anything begins; you simply have a peaceful feeling without any thoughts or other activity. It is apparently a peaceful feeling that occurs when it´s completely quiet inside, when there is no goal-oriented activity in the brain. This is easy to practice. See for instance the little mind-flying game.
Nature is wonderful; it has built a small molecule that helps creating life, love and pleasure on several levels. This molecule is a hormone called oxytocin, or ‘the love hormone’:
- Oxytocin stimulates the woman´s uterus to contract during birth, and thereby helps us to be born into this world and to live.
- Oxytocin causes the milk to run in the mother’s breast, thus giving the baby nourishment.
- Oxytocin facilitates the creation of a strong sense of belonging and a bonding between parents and the child in the very fist days of life that lasts throughout life.
- Oxytocin is dancing around in the body when we fall in love.
- Oxytocin creates our sense of kindness and is an encouragement to act kindly.
Oxytocin may be stimulated by:
- Paying attention and being self-aware – getting a grip on your inner spotlight (read more: The attention – spotlight of the brain).
- Being kind to oneself and to others. Oxytocin is in fact self-perpetuating; once you start, you will produce more of it, in yourself as well as in others.
- Physical activity, which directly stimulates the production of oxytocin and endorphins too.
- Nurturing and loving touch from a loved one, and/or safe and gentle massage from a professional masseur.