The Power of Affection

In the 1950s, Harry Harlow, an American psychologist, conducted a series of experiments that involved rhesus monkeys and the importance of mother and child bonding, but it’s the first experiment that we’re going to focus on toady. In this experiment Harlow separated newborn monkeys from their mothers just hours after they were born. He then introduced the baby monkeys to “surrogate” mothers that were either made from terrycloth or heavy mesh wires. The “mothers” were both the same size and were also warmed by an electric light that was placed in their center, so the only difference between the two mothers was that one didn’t have any soft surfaces while the other was cuddly and made up entirely of a soft surface. During the experiment, both of the “mothers” were placed inside of the cage with the baby monkeys, but only one of the mother monkeys had a nipple that the baby monkey could nurse from. Some of the infant monkeys received their food from the wire mother and others received it from the cloth mother. The monkeys that received nourishment from the cloth mothers clung to these mothers significantly more than they did to the wire monkey, but the same was true for the monkeys who received their nourishment from the wire mothers. Even though they got their nourishment from the wire mother, they still spent most of the time clinging to the cloth monkey.

The conclusion from this experiment points to the importance of a need to feel loved. When these baby monkeys needed to feel loved, they sought comfort from their cloth mothers. And the monkeys who got their nourishment from the wire mothers may have gone to them if they were hungry, but when they didn’t need food, they spent their time with the terrycloth monkey that could make them feel comforted and loved, which shows us how vital affection is in our lives.

We may not be monkeys, and we’re definitely not infants anymore who are trying to form an attachment to our mothers, but we do still crave affection. During the good times, and the bad times, it is the people in our lives that tend to bring us some extra happiness.

Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on “things” that we think will make us happy, that we don’t realize that there are people here right in front of us that can make us happier. Some of us work hard and make money so that we can buy the latest gizmo or gadget because we think that it will bring us some semblance of happiness, but the thing that could really make us happier is the human being that we went shopping with to buy that phone, or the person who we’re riding in that new car with, or the roommate that lives with us in the house that we spent all that money on. Positive thinker, how well do you remember that new iphone that you spent all that money on and waited in line for hours for last year? I’m willing to bet that it’s not as well as that amazing conversation that you had with your best friend for hours and hours on that exact same phone. And chances are that you remember all the laughs you shared with your friend while you were out at an expensive restaurant more than the food that you paid all of that money for.

It’s true there are certain things that you need to survive, like: food, water, and shelter, but do you really just want to survive, or would you rather live? At the end of the day, it’s the people that we come across in life that are going to help us to live fuller lives. They will help to contribute to our happiness, not the things that we buy. If you’re out there searching for happiness in things positive thinker, chances are, you’re never going to find it, but when you start noticing and living in the moments that you share with the important people in your life then you may actually start to see some added happiness come your way.

Positive thinker, if you want to be happier, try putting down that phone and interact with the person sitting in front of you instead of scrolling through other people’s instagram pictures. Instead of spending money on the newest car, buy a cheaper one and take a road trip with your friends where you’ll have the chance to create so many amazing new memoires. When you learn to focus on making lasting memories in your life with the people you love, buying the latest and greatest new “thing” won’t matter because you’ll start to realize that people are better than all of these fake forms of happiness that are society is trying to push on us. So create happiness with people positive thinker, not with things.

And remember, “Let us be thankful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

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