Blog: Light

Spring is the best time of year. The days are getting longer. While it is cloudy and often rains, the grass is greener, the buds appear on the trees, and there is renewal and a feeling that the world will come alive again. We can see the sun reflecting off the tops of trees and sparkles over a lake or pond.   We long for sunny days and warmer weather. 

The darkness of winter is replaced with the light of spring. Light seems to make all of the difference.  It sparks positive emotions that provide energy and brings joy to our lives.  The medicinal power of light is not well understood. Perhaps it helps our circadian rhythm allowing us to sleep better at night therefore making us more energetic and alert during the day.  Or, it could directly trigger release of our “happy” brain chemical dopamine causing a physiological response. 

Did you know that we actually do not see light? We see the opaque objects that the light reflects. It may not be the light that is lifting us up, but the awareness and details of our surroundings that are lost in the darkness. Light forces us to look at details, see beauty, be present, and live more fully.  In fact, all of our senses provide information for our brain based on the reflections of the world that we experience.

Light is life’s highlighter.  The suns illumination is associated with positive emotions such as hope and abundance, knowledge and awareness, grandeur, energy, guidance, eternity, and love. 

While we can all relate to the positive feeling of the sunshine on our energy and outlook, the metaphor of the positive impact of light can be applied to each one of us.  Every human being has a light that shines bright.  Everyone brings a special quality into the world that illuminates, creates beauty, and promotes positive emotions in those that are seeing it.  Our brain seeks connection to the light found in each other to feed our need for love, understanding, and belonging.

Day to day, it is easy to lose sight of this light as we struggle with life’s challenges.  We get so absorbed in trying to get through the day that we forget to appreciate that light in each other that is so important.  It is also easy to lose track of our own bright light; the special qualities that we bring into the world that others depend on and love about us. Finding and connecting to the light in each other will also generate the same positive emotions that we find when appreciating the light of the sun. 

Springtime reminds me how important light is in making me feel more fully alive.  It stirs emotions that are positive and optimistic.  It reminds me to find pockets of light in the world that add energy and beauty to my daily experience.  Appreciating the light around me is a wonderful way to approach life. It takes practice.  It is something that needs to be intentional, but can, ultimately, make any ordinary day feel like a sunny day.

By Gary Schaffel, MD

May 13, 2021