According to a recent study, the more friends a person has the higher is his pain tolerance. The fewer friends we have the lower our pain tolerance. “Friends”, of course, are not Facebook friends but those who you really share your life with. In another study, a mouse was put in a cage and given food mixed with heroin. The mouse developed an addition after the second meal. But when the experiment was repeated for a group of mice living in one cage none of the mice developed an addiction – they tasted the food, felt the high, but ultimately preferred the “family”.

As one psychologist suggested, when we talk about additions, we should talk primarily about bonding. What if all our addictions are a misdirected bonding? A drug addict bonds with the drug because he has nothing else to bond with. We will bond ourselves to whatever if we can’t bond with the right thing. In the absence a true relationship we tend to form false ones.

It is pointless to fight additions head on – we must bond with something. And then the addition will hold no power over us. My “precious” will lose its grip when we develop connections which are meaningful. Meaningful relationships are bonds which set us free. True bonding is the absolute freedom. But what is “true bonding”?

As long as you remain isolated, cut off, shut down, closed to the world, as long as you have something to hide, you can’t help but bond with wrong things. Those things will become precious to you. The true bonding is not defined by the number of friends but by their quality. By the degree of openness that you have. It is when this swamp inside you, those stagnant waters, suddenly finds an outlet. Are the waters of your soul stagnant or trickling out?

There’s a simple test – the more swampish you are on the inside the lower is your pain tolerance threshold. But as soon as you get a real connection with someone you tap into unknown resources and your endurance grows. So the real problem is not in having few friends, or little social interaction, but having a closed heart – even when you are among people. The solution is not in making more friends but in opening yourself to at least one of them. The heart must be poured out. “Pour out your hearts to Him at all times”.

It is unnatural for the heart to be shut down. It is designed to let in and let out. What causes it to shut down is fear. And yet opening or shutting the heart is our choice. We have full control over it. But even if we cannot, for some reason, open ourselves to the world outside, it can be helped. We are in the arms of the One who’s bigger than our self-absorption. And he is concerned with our happiness much more than we are.

When my 1-year old niece is cranky and whining for an hour I will pick her up and walk around the backyard showing her things. Look, Sasha, what a birdy! Look at this squirrel, what a funny tail! Suddenly she turnes her attention away from her own misery to the big wide world and stops crying. She slithers down and starts chasing after the squirrel’s tail.

In the same way God holds us in his embrace even when are self-absorbed and cranky. He walks with us up and down the roads of life showing us things. Look, what a fish! Look there, what a sunset! What a person! What a beautiful music! Gradually he pulls us out of our shell and we turn our attentions away from the misery of self and to the big wide world. We forget about ourselves and… become who we are.

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