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  • Writer's pictureRobin Masters

Animal Instincts

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

The global health situation lasting the past few years has left us a bit shell-shocked, fearfull and combative. Just like a cat up a tree, we were seeking higher ground and safety. It is within us to heal our worries, dissatisfaction and isolation by reaching out. Searching, seeking and trying to be kind and understanding; true to our nature, connecting and allowing human touch again. At least we must try, as we are all related and all one humankind.

The human animal. Some of our first instincts are food for survival, shelter from natural elements & predators and the need for socialization & connection. Our drive of reproduction and the nurturing of mother, father & child make us an evolved and intellectually elevated creature that is feeling and needing of sympathy, connection and physical closeness.

"We are understanding and amassing a growing body of evidence that we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive," according to a 2009 study at the University of California, Berkeley. "Learning to care and cooperate could actually be predisposed in our genetic makeup," the report findings go on to say. As we emerge from the aftermath of a pandemic it feels as if we're all looking for a place to land.

So kindness may be evolving in our very nature. In addition to skin, flesh and bones our bodies are a miraculous system of nerves, blood and hormones. We actually produce a hormone, oxytocin, that promotes social interaction. It flows into the bloodstream and brain, promoting nurturing and even romantic love. It aids us in the desire for bonding and allows us also to be empathic.

When this instinct goes awry, we become wild with panic, act irrationally and indulge in over-consumption. When we are nurtured, connected and physically groomed, we produce less of our stress hormones and subsequently refocus, filter through our fears and decide what is meaningfull. By this we also improve our own immunity. We truly are connected neurologically through our emotions. We can successfully communicate sympathy, love and gratitude.

So it may well be possible that we have a "kindness gene" activating our oxytocin hormone that actually promotes the reciprocation of being sympathetic. Something that instills compassion, calming and comforting us. The ignition of this hormone is cultivated by our social interactions, defusing the stress hormone cortisol that is released when we are under threat.

Throughout our evolution oxytocin is what calms us by regulating breathing and heartrate. It may even be what civilized us. It is wired in our bodies travelling through the brain and vagus nerve and is integral to our communicating as humans. It ultimately manages our stress balance and it circulates in our bodies actively triggered from one person to another through human touch. To survive as a species, it is our responsibility to do so. So let a cat's curiosity lead you and reach out, be human, let touch heal you and see how you like those apples!

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