Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rhys. Rhys Wonders, “How does love work?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rhys!

It makes the world go round. It teaches lessons, makes people feel warm, and sometimes causes pain. Many people say it’s all they need in life. That’s right—we’re talking about the knee shaking, palm sweating, heart pounding feeling of love!

How does love work? If you’ve been WONDERing with us for a while, you may have read about the science behind love. You may also know there are many types of love. For example, most people feel love for members of their family—this long-term connection is often called attachment. They may feel this same emotion toward friends or even pets

A different type of love exists between romantic couples and life partners. Have you ever had a crush? If so, you know these feelings are quite different from those people feel for family and friends. Sometimes, these initial feelings grow into long-term love similar to that felt in families.

All types of love have at least one thing in common—they have a big effect on the brain. When a person feels love, chemicals in their brain like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin increase. They are made in the hypothalamus region, which helps regulate the body’s inner functions.

This is one reason why love often causes a physical response. Seeing someone you love can cause increased heart rate. It can also lead to butterflies in the stomach and shakiness in the limbs. 

Love can also interrupt some of our regular brain functions. In addition to producing chemicals, the hypothalamus regulates your appetite. That may explain why people in love sometimes describe less desire to eat or sleep!

Have you ever seen a close friend (or a crush) and felt giddy or energetic? That’s another effect love has on the brain. This excitement can reduce your ability to think clearly, make decisions, or even communicate.

Why do people feel love? Many experts believe it’s rooted in survival. After all, most people first feel love for family members or caretakers. Families and close friends take care of and protect each other. Especially for children, this is a major advantage for survival. Later in life, when people start to love romantic partners, this is driven by similar needs. 

Scientists have found that love may also have several health benefits. It can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Spending time with loved ones can also lead to a longer lifespan. In fact, close family and community relationships is one factor that may help people live longer in Blue Zones.

With all this talk about love, maybe someone you care about is on your mind. How can you show someone you love them? There are plenty of ways! You can demonstrate love by showing appreciation, giving compliments, and being a good listener. Sharing, doing small favors, or giving a hug can also show a person you care.

Of course, words work just fine, too! If you care about someone, tell them so. Making a card or writing them a letter can also be great ways to share love. If you’re not sure what to do, just ask yourself: What actions make you feel loved?

Standards: NGSS.LS2.D, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6 CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.2

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