By now you know that I live everyday researching and writing about how my wife and I can make our ‘third act’ in life the best yet. We want to achieve the best bodies, minds and attitudes that we can. When it comes to our ‘third act,’ it’s really all about the hormones. As we age our hormones peter out, no pun intended. Today’s “Make The Third Act The Best Yet Tip” has to do with a simple act that makes three hormones improve. It’s called cuddling.
Swoosh! There went all the men.
I am going to let you in on a little secret. I start every morning when I am in that sweet spot between sleeping and being awake doing two things. I cuddle my wife and I talk to God. You see, my goal is to have God kiss me on my forehead when it is all said and done and say to me “Well Done David.”
I am still a long way from getting that kiss and comment. I need to live longer, because I still have a lot of making good before I get God’s blessing. I am currently still a wretch and in need of a lot of Grace. But anyway, when I am talking to God while in that sweet spot between sleep and being awake, I am cuddling my wife.
I like to cuddle in the spooning position. Oh yeah, there are a lot of different cuddling positions. There are actual businesses that teach people how to cuddle.
I like to spoon skin to skin. Our skins are our bodies largest organ. It is the first organ to fully develop while in the womb and it is the last to perish. It is filled with life from the very beginning to the very end. Vicky doesn’t always accommodate my love for skin to skin cuddling, but she does most the time, and I know she does it for me.
Enough with TMI stuff. The real reason I want to share with you our spooning/cuddling is because it improves our hormones. Remember, it’s all about the hormones! There are 3 hormones that cuddling influences.
Vicky and I have had the pleasure to be in the company of John Gray, the author of ‘Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus.’ He will talk your ear off about oxytocin. He was the one that introduced me to “The Cuddle Hormone.” Before I move on to what he taught me, let me explain how important oxytocin is to living a life filled with extreme happiness.
Have you ever heard of an animal called a prairie vole? It is part of a very exclusive group within the mammal species. They are part of the 3% of mammals that are monogamous. When prairie voles mate it is a very laborious union. It takes about 24 hours. Once they have completed the sex act, they bond for life.
The mated prairie vole are like Vicky and I. They love hanging out together and they want to be with each other 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If you ever get to watch a National Geographic Documentary with prairie voles casted, you will see that the mated voles just lay around and groom each other for hours. One interesting item about them is that they also completely avoid any other single voles. They are too happy to be distracted.
The prairie vole has a cousin called the montane vole. When it comes to mating you can liken it to a quick one night stand. I think we all have cousins like that. Researchers have found that the difference between the prairie vole and its cousin, the montane mole, is the hormone called oxytocin. When prairie voles have sex, oxytocin floods their system. When the montane vole has sex, oxytocin is minimal.
Once they discovered this, the scientist had to do some experiments. In one of them, they gave a pair of prairie voles injections of oxytocin and then did not allow them to have sex. Guess what happened? They still bonded with each other, for life. In another experiment, the scientists blocked the prairie vole’s ability to produce oxytocin. These prairie voles became just like their cousin and ditched their partners after a round of sex.
So, what does this mean to humans. We are not quite sure, but when humans cuddle our oxytocin levels increase dramatically.
There have been studies that show that oxytocin is involved with how strong the bond between a mother and her child is. The more oxytocin produce the stronger the bond between mother and child. Oxytocin is also the hormone that is released when a mother breastfeeds her newborn. This hormone also causes the uterus to shrink. Wow!
By the way, what hormone is released by nipple stimulation? You guessed it. Oxytocin. We also know that oxytocin is associated with a woman’s ability to orgasm. Think foreplay guys. Like a woman needs to know how important foreplay is. Before I get into trouble with Vicky, let’s move onto the next hormone that cuddling affects.
Cortisol is the stress hormone. We teach quite a bit about cortisol in Phase THREE of The HOPE Protocol. Stress is what causes an ex-drinker to drink, an ex-smoker to smoke, and an ex-overeater to overeat. Phase THREE is all about maintaining our gains. Cortisol needs to be controlled to maintain gains. Cuddling decreases cortisol levels. That’s a great thing when it comes to not only our weight, but also our heart and mental health. Decreased cortisol levels decrease blood pressure and anxiety. Cortisol is also a fat storing hormone. It is the hormone that gives our bodies a block type shape. Again, we are going to spend a lot more time in Phase THREE talking about cortisol so I will just brush against it here. All you need to know today is that cuddling decreases cortisol; therefore, decreasing fat storage, decreasing blood pressure and decreasing anxiety.
I like to think of dopamine as a motivational hormone. It makes me feel like I can score. It puts that smile on my face just before I succeed. At least it makes me think I can succeed. That is why cuddling, in many cases, can turn into so much more. Dopamine is what makes you want to reach out and grab the ring on a carousel. Dopamine is important when it comes to achieving our goals and perpetuating our species.
Dopamine is released when something pleasurable is about to occur. If you love prime rib and you see a waiter walk by with a piece of prime rib on a plate, dopamine will be released. If you are attracted to tall dark-haired men with green eyes and you see a guy that is tall, dark-haired and with green eyes, dopamine is released. Dopamine is the reason your daughter is attracted to THAT guy, you know the one that you have no clue why! Dopamine is highly involved with both food and sex.
In a nutshell, cuddling, is like having a romantic candlelight dinner with just the two of you in attendance, oh, that’s right, oxytocin is released then too.
To live an extremely happy life, cuddle every day for at least 10 minutes. I prefer mornings, but if you have sleeping problems, night works just as well.
I mentioned that I talk to God when I am in that sweet spot between sleep and being awake. I always imagine that he kisses me and says “Well Done!” and then He asks me, “David, what do you want to do for eternity.” Do you know what I tell Him? “Lord, I just want to be just like I am now, embracing my wife.” I can’t imagine a more peaceful happy rewarding eternity.
David Mac : The Health, Life and ‘Third Act’ Coach
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