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A few years back I was dealing with some difficult times at work which found me coming home at night very stressed. My home; that supposed refuge from the storm, was always busy, with lots of noisy children gleefully bouncing off the walls. I found after a while, that speaking the right words to my kids when I was stressed was not creating the right response. In fact, it was creating the opposite effect. How come? Interestingly, the answer is found in science.

Physiologically, our bodies are comprised of many different systems: circulatory systems, lymphatic systems, nervous systems, respiratory systems and so on. Most of these are closed loop systems, meaning they are self regulating. Being in the presence of another persons circulatory system does not influence your own. However, the limbic system in the brain, where our emotional centre resides, is in fact an open loop system. Of necessity it demands connectivity from other people in order to establish its own stability. This open loop ensures the safety and future of the human race. Because of this open loop, my crying baby makes my wife and I jump up to see if he is okay. If it were not for this feature in our brain, we wouldn’t bother.

Interestingly, research in intensive care units has shown that the comforting presence of another person not only lowers the patient’s blood pressure but also slows the secretion of fatty acids that block arteries. Additionally, positive relationships can see one person transmits signals that can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular functions, sleep rhythms, even immune functions, inside the body of another. In all aspects of our social life, our physiologies intermingle.

So, what is my point? Edwin Markham said “There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” Turns out, that little line of poetry, is in fact a scientific truth!

The virtues we manifest – enthusiasm, conviction, love, serenity, courage and so on, literally influence the physiology of those around us. This reinforces the truth that you can’t fake sincerity. When our body language conflicts with our words, people will always believe our body language because emotion is contagious and we can feel it even on a subconscious level.

Do you want to make a difference? The first step is to be the difference. It is not about what we say, but about who we are that will create the change we wish to see in our world.

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