The two most powerful forces in nature are survival and reproduction. Mating rituals between birds for example, that you may have seen on nature programs, are especially interesting. Some male mammals fight to the death for the right to mate, although this rarely happens.
Humans pose a more challenging understanding of mating rituals. We are certainly hard-wired to reproduce and it seems to be just as strong for us as other species, however, there are many variables of how we go about it. These variables have changed throughout history, with culture, religious beliefs, and many other aspects that play a significant role.
Evolutionary psychologists and behavioral ecologists have formulated various mating strategies for humans, one of which is called “Parental Investment.” We have the ability to make a conscious decision not to reproduce, unlike other species.
Marriage in one form or another has been around for thousands of years. Though marriage has ancient roots, until recently, love had little to do with it. Polygamy was common throughout history but usually sought by men of means. Arranged marriage was the most common approach until the 18th century, and is still common in parts of the world.
So, what does love have to do with it?
We all know that there are a great many divorces in the world, especially in Western culture. The love two young people have for each other is greatly determined by chemistry. The hormone that facilitates this powerful attraction and bonding is oxytocin, widely dubbed “the love hormone.”
Numerous other names have been given to oxytocin, (the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, bliss hormone) since researchers have begun to uncover its effects on behavior; including its role in love, and its female biological functions in reproduction.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus, and it is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. Chemically it is known as a nonapeptide (a peptide containing nine amino acids), and biologically, as a neuropeptide, it acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
Other researchers sum up the reproductive importance of oxytocin by saying it “serves the continued propagation of a species,” adding that through evolution its repertoire has expanded to maintain a central role in more complicated aspects of reproductive behavior. For these reasons, we call oxytocin “the great facilitator of life.”
Another review notes that the hormones do not act alone in the chemistry of love, but is just one important component of a complex neurochemical system that allows the body to adapt to highly emotive situations. Scientific research has uncovered oxytocin’s specific ability to modulate social behavior, including effects on motherly care and aggression, bonding between couples, sexual behavior, social memory, and trust.
One study published in 2012, examined oxytocin levels in new lovers versus those in single people. It found that there were high levels of the hormone in the first stages of romantic attachment, and these were sustained for six months.
Statistics have shown that 90% of married couples are not as happy in their marriage after just 4 years. So how do we keep families together, at least until the children have left the nest?
I understand that, when two teenagers think they are madly in love with each other, there is no talking to them. However, we still have the responsibility to guide them. The information above is essential, plus some common sense. Marriage cannot be based on a “high” of emotional attraction which cannot be maintained.
It is a partnership, and a contract between two people to raise a family and support each other. Feelings of love and compatibility are wonderful to experience between two people, but it must be accompanied by the awareness that things change with time and that you have a responsibility to the children you have brought into this world.
For centuries arranged marriages have worked fairly well because it was based on a conscious commitment of raising a family. We need to integrate that awareness with the relatively new concept of marriage which is based only on the passionately defined word “love.”
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” – Charles Darwin
“Most believe it is the pleasurable moments of our lives that are the biggest influences of our perception of what allows us to experience joy in life. However, I believe that those of us that can best tolerate discomfort and fear and can rise above complaining and being miserable during difficult times are the ones that experience the most joy in life” – Nathan Shasho
- The story you have created in your life can be changed. Your story is not who you are but simply the life you have lived thus far and the choices and decisions you have made. How you perceive the world and yourself is a changing and fluid experience. The world has changed far to fast and is causing an alarming increase in fear, confusion, loneliness, depression, anxiety, pharmaceutical drug dependence, and suicide. Indoctrination, propaganda, inadequate public schools, ineffective parenting, and the latest onslaught of social media is creating havoc for the latest generation. You may think your kids are happy and dealing with this ultra-modern world, and maybe they are… but I would still suggest trying to get them to trust you with their secrets and emotions with unconditional love and not judgment.
- In the 20th and 21st century life has become safer and more comfortable for more people than ever before, in spite of what you hear and see in the media. Yet the number of people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, panic disorder, suicide (10th leading cause of death in the US in 2015) is a huge problem. You only need to look at the pharmaceutical industry for some insight.
- Our instinctual survival mechanism evolved millions of years ago and has not changed. It is controlled by the most ancient part of the brain called the limbic system. It is a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions of fear, pleasure, anger, hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring, and our survival instinct. It does all this and much more 24/7 automatically without a thought even when we are asleep and dreaming. Did you ever wake up from a nightmare and think for a second that it was real. The brain cannot differentiate between reality and dreams. If you are frightened out of your wits in a dream your limbic system reacts as if it was really happening and responds to a life a death situation with an increase in heart rate, fear, blood pressure, and all the other functions that involved with your survival.
Modern life has come upon us in a geological second and we have not yet adapted, which is a major reason for so much of the anxiety, stress, confusion, and depression in our lives. My perspective for counseling and mentoring is for the human condition of the 21st century. It’s about understanding how our brain works, our biology and chemistry, and our evolution. We need to understand all this to better navigate our lives. Your survival instinct and that “little voice in your head” that keeps you awake at night is the “dark side”, and we must use the “thinking” part of our brain (the cerebral cortex), to control it.
Stop “Trying” To BE Happy
What is the difference between a thought and an experience?
What is the difference between a thought and a feeling or an emotion?
The simple answer is that experience or emotions do not require language or thoughts.
Before humans invented language they must have certainly experienced emotions.
Scientists have demonstrated that animals experience emotions.
How can we observe this in our daily lives?
Infants experience a wide range of emotions without language.
Love and happiness are not emotions, they are concepts we invented with language. They have no meaning without context.
Just think about the thousands of ways we use the word love every day.
I love my mom and dad, I love my friend, and I love chocolate ice cream with sprinkles on top, I love to watch the sunset, I love my puppy, I love my girlfriend.
I love that dress, I love those shoes, I love yoga.
Happiness is an incredibly nebulous concept.
We say we want happiness as if once we “get it” it’s ours to keep forever.
It waxes and wanes from moment to moment, day to day, that is a reality we need to accept. Things change, nothing stays the same.
Joy is an experience. We can observe it in infants and children.
Fear, anger, pain, joy, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, depression, are experiences that cannot be understood with words unless you have experienced them yourself.
There is an endless amount of experiences that people have had that cannot be experienced by another person simply with the use of language. There are still primitive cultures in the world today that wouldn’t understand what the hell we are “talking” about because it is not in the realm of their human experiences; they are simply concepts we have created.
So my advice… stop “trying” to be happy and experience the joy in life whenever possible.
Everyone one of us sees the world from a unique perspective. That’s because there is no one in the world exactly like you. Even when you look at yourself you see something different than anybody else. We can be our worst critic, and be judgmental of ourselves… all the “would of, should of, could of” that can plague our thoughts. The stress about the future that doesn’t exist yet. It all takes you away from now. You cannot change what happened a moment ago and no one can predict the future.
I have three degrees from Brooklyn College.
- Sociology (minor in Anthropology)
- Master’s in Psychology
My talent for mentoring and counseling has little to do with my studies, but much more with many readings of all forms of psychology, eastern philosophy (zen Buddhism, Taoism) and most importantly my life experience. I have also studied all of the sciences including those that are important to human behavior, (biology, biochemistry, the evolution of humans). Human chemistry plays a large role in our behavior. I can help you unravel your questions, fears and concerns and perhaps the ability to “Make Sense of It All”.