The Power of Oxytocin

Why do we do we hug each other? When thinking about it, it is a weird gesture. It surely has to do with physical proximity, which can be very comforting when one is in distress. Here comes the science part. When we have any physical contact whatsoever, our body releases a powerful hormone, oxytocin, that makes us feel good. Some say that this hormone is responsible for making us more human. It potentiates happiness, trust, it makes us more generous towards others, and also more responsive towards other people’s feelings. Supposedly, it can also have positive effects over depressions and anxiety. On the bad side, since nothing is perfect, this hormone is also responsible for making us distrust people we don’t know, for jealousy and envy, and for gloating. Therefore, although this hormone is at the source of some of our most pro-social behaviors, it is also at the core of many negative feelings we may experience in our relations with others. The good part is, you don’t even have to hug someone for this hormone to be released. Simply making eye contact with someone may be enough to make you feel satisfied and connected to someone else.

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