It can be easy to just give in to hate... to simply shut down others' thoughts, opinions, feelings, and experiences without hesitation. You might not even know you're doing it. I mean, judging those around us and sticking with who or what's comfortable is just what we humans tend to do. Can this behavior be changed? Can we actually CHOOSE love instead? YES! To do so, let's first understand a little bit more about our human tendency to discriminate.
To Know Love, We must Understand Hate
Discrimination can be a product of both nature and nurture depending on the definition. One definition of discrimination is "recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another." We use this kind of discrimination to protect ourselves from danger, make every-day decisions, or even just to categorize the mundane. For example, I may choose to take a well-lit alleyway over a dark alleyway. This is not because I have a personal or moral issue with one kind of alleyway, but because I simply don't feel safe walking where I can't see. I may also choose to eat an apple over a banana for a snack. I still like bananas a lot. I just felt like having an apple this time.
The other definition of discrimination is "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex." This is not hiring someone because of their gender or following someone around the store because of the color of their skin. This kind of discrimination is learned, it's infectious, and it's harmful to ourselves and others. This is the kind of discrimination we are working hard to rid our world of. We will always be as unique as our fingerprints, and we will always have our disagreements, but if we just take a step back, assess our intentions, validate our fellow humans, and strive to make that strong, conscious effort to understand those around us, we CAN feel the benefits of choosing love!
What changes when I #ChooseLove?
Harry Reis, PhD, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships, believes that choosing love can benefit your health in 10 HUGE ways! Before you can start though, he says the key is to "feel connected to other people, feel respected and valued by other people, and feel a sense of belonging...”
1. Lower Stress
If we've learned one thing from 2020 it's that constant negativity can be toxic. Hatred is a terribly negative and consuming feeling. It can lead to anger and aggression. These severe emotions can trigger stress responses in the body leading to uncomfortable symptoms like aches and pains, nausea, insomnia, fluctuations in weight, and memory issues.
2. Lower Risk for Substance Abuse