Mr. Courtesy, meet Miss Oxytocin.
Long ago, I saw a sign that said:
“Smiles are still free.”
I’ve noticed since then that when I smile, most times, other people smile, too. When I say, “Hello”, most other people will respond in kind. I’ve noticed that in the morning at work, when I smile and say, “Good morning”, or “Good day”, other people will respond in kind.
But there is something else. I also notice a feeling, it’s a blip, but its there still. I’d have to say it’s something like oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Something in my mind says that when I extend courtesy to others, I improve my chances of survival, and that feels good.
I have even seen that on my darkest days in the past, when I would walk the earth with a thundering cloud over my head, that I still could not resist the urge to say something funny. People who laugh at my jokes just encourage me to be funny, without really meaning to encourage me to be funny. I like to bring levity to the scene. I know from some experience, people are often absorbed in their own problems and not knowing how to solve them. A little humor, a little courtesy, gives other people a respite from those problems. And when I’m down, I often supply my own humor to lighten up.
Another form of courtesy is the hug. We hug as a greeting. We hug for comfort. We hug to relieve pain. Scientists tell us that when we hug one another for 20 seconds, we get a nice shot of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Oxytocin is released by the brain during periods of emotional and physical intimacy with others. It is released by women as they prepare to give birth. Oxytocin is even used to induce labor in women.
So if you’re on a down day, and things don’t look too bright, you might try smiling at others. They may return the favor. You might try greeting others. They may return the favor. If you need a lift, a hug will often help lift your spirits. Humans have reciprocation baked into their genes, by design. That is how we have survived for so long.
Smiles are free. Hugs are free. Greetings are free. Courtesy is free. There is so much that we could give to each other. Even ideas are free. And the best part is, that when we share courtesies with others, we’re never poorer for doing so. The light that you shine on others will be reflected back to you with a shot of oxytocin.