The process of seeing that you are being seen is so important for your health. When we look into another person’s eyes our mirror neurons begin to fire. These mirror neurons are located in the identity center of the brain. The interesting fact about these neurons is they cannot look at themselves. They can only look at others and activate the neurons that reflect what they see (Jim Wilder). Since this takes place in our identity center, our sense of self or identity is also developed through our mirror neuron pathway.
What does all of this “neuroscience talk” mean for mental health?
It means that by having eye contact with people who are happy to be with us, we are able to generate joy and feel secure in our identities. It also means that people who are isolated or surrounded by angry or negative people will struggle with loneliness, anger, and negativity. The worst part of all this is that interacting through text, social media or even FaceTime does not cause our mirror neurons to fire. These interactions are pseudo connections that leave us feeling isolated, unhappy and depressed.
If you want to improve your happiness and health, one step you can take is to be intentional about spending face to face time with people who are happy to be with you. Be intentional about looking into people’s eyes and smiling when you talk and listen. Their mirror neurons will receive those same messages and you will both benefit from it. It also helps to limit your time spent with pseudo connections that leave you feeling isolated.
“the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;”