Peg’s Perspective: Human Connection and Mirror Neurons

By October 31, 2018Health and Wellness

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Peg’s Perspective:

Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world?   Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear.  But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?

Although you may not be familiar with the term “mirror neurons,” medical research is filled with studies showing that human beings are astoundingly attuned to the emotions and emotional shifts of the other humans around them.   We notice changes in the position of the eyebrow, wrinkles around the eyes, and overall body language that signal to us the other person’s state of mind – comfortable, angry, frightened, happy, suspicious, or relaxed, explains Bessel van der Kolk M.D in his book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Science shows that our internal mirror neurons register what the other person is experiencing, and our own bodies adjust to what the other person is feeling.  That is, we mirror what we’re seeing.  For example, when we receive a message from the other person that “You’re safe with me,” we relax.

So, what is the most important lesson of mirror neurons?   It is this:   surround yourself with people who send you good messages.  Our brains are wired to help us function as members of a tribe.    It is therefore important that we are surrounded by people who support and restore us.   And if you do, your quality of life will soar!

The feeling that you get when you walk into any of The Wesley Communities is perhaps the greatest benefit of our life plan communities.   Here, it’s never too late to make new friends and experience new things with a tribe—who can brighten your spirits on any given day.  Providing an environment to benefit your physical and emotional health is the top priority at our communities.  And one of the ways this occurs is through positive interactions with others.

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Source: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.