Friendship lamps are all the rage in the United States now, especially as the nation goes through its toughest socioeconomic period since the Great Recession. With the coronavirus threat looming large on the horizon and no end in sight, everyone wants to get in on the friendship lamp action that’s sweeping the country. A detailed explanation of what a friendship lamp is and how it works can be accessed through this link (it opens in a new browser tab so you can get back to reading this.)
To summarize the linked article, a set of friendship lamps are two or more lamps connected via the Internet from different locations in a way that if you touch one of the lamps, the others will all light up in a preselected color that you choose when setting up the lamps initially. But the reason we’re here today is to explore just why this humble distance lamp represents such an earth-shattering concept and how it can bring happiness, reduce stress, and give its users a sense of closeness even when they’re separated by great distances.
To understand why the phenomenon of seeing your lamp light up in the color that your loved one chose can have such a huge impact on your emotions and set you up for a positive day ahead, let’s look at some scientific facts about relationships in general.
The Powerful Act of Acknowledging Someone
From the moment we’re born, we are programmed to seek acknowledgment, attention, approval, and adoration. It’s what we crave our whole lives from that point on. In fact, to say that humans are social creatures would be an understatement. We are hardwired to be dependent on the members of our society; mother and father first, then siblings if any, then the larger familial circle, then our friends, and then society as a whole. These are various stages we go through as we grow up. This dependence has been studied in great depth and is considered to be a survival mechanism.
Babies cry because it’s the only way they know how to communicate. They instinctively know that it is a way to get attention, whether that’s in the form of food, the soothing sounds of their mother, the sight of someone familiar, or a loving touch.
This behavior is invariably carried into late childhood, adolescence, and, eventually, adulthood. The end goals may evolve from basic creature comforts to material wants and needs to social acceptance, approval, love, and all that good stuff, but the modality remains largely unaltered. In other words, our behavior is gradually molded and crafted by this craving for attention, until it ultimately defines how we interact with our familial and social circles. That’s why the ultimate social status is considered to be that of a celebrity – a person who others celebrate. This is our innermost desire – to be celebrated by all – but it is manifested in varying degrees and is a status that most of us never achieve, which is what makes it so desirable.
When you flip that around and look at it from the viewpoint of the “giver of attention”, it makes all the more sense. People love it when you focus on them and lavish your attention on them. In his epic book about human behavior called How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie repeatedly extols the virtue of focusing on the other person. One of the most powerful sentences in that book is:
“People are more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.”
Every major religion in the world preaches the importance of serving others. It is the essence of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The simple truth, at the risk of sounding like an old country song, is that people just need more love in their lives, and a little bit of love goes a long way. A simple gesture of affection can have a disproportionately big impact. This is especially true when someone you love is far away from you and there’s little you can do to comfort them physically. Think of couples in a long-distance relationship, an elderly aunt who lives alone, a kid away at college, a grandmother living alone, or a childhood friend now residing in another country. There are ample opportunities to “love thy neighbor as thyself” once you understand that ‘proximity does not a neighbor make.’
And that’s what a friendship lamp can do for the loved ones in your life who are away from you for some unavoidable reason. In 2020, the year of the coronavirus and social distancing, it is vital that we understand the value of touch and how a simple gesture like touching a friendship lamp can have a massive positive effect on the recipient of that love.
Emotional Proximity vs. Physical Proximity
Speaking of love, in the broadest sense, it is an intensely emotional experience that can also manifest itself in the physical realm. Put simply, if you feel the love in your heart, your body feels it, too. Have you ever had that tingling feeling on your skin when someone you love is near you or speaking to you? Or that pleasant buzz when you’re with the one you love.
Unfortunately, we tend to get acclimatized to such feelings over time, which is why they say that “familiarity breeds contempt.” Perhaps it’s not the building up of contempt at all; maybe it’s just a loss of focus on the good feelings we initially had around that person and a build-up of what is known as “negative familiarity” – little things like how the person chews their food or how they use the toothpaste!
The other side of that coin is that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” When you’re away from someone you love for a prolonged period, the brain automatically filters out the negative bits – the toilet seat left down or the inevitable stray piece of underwear that once irked you – and starts refocusing on the best experiences and feelings about that individual. That’s where memories play a powerful role. But memories alone are not always enough. Something else is usually required when people start to feel lonely and depressed.
According to Psychology Today, “When you receive the affection of a desirable individual, it triggers lots of serotonin, even if you hate to admit it. And when you are the desired individual, receiving admiration from others, that triggers serotonin too. It feels so good that people tend to seek it again and again.”
Serotonin is one of the over-arcing hormones or neurotransmitters (chemicals that facilitate communication between neurons) produced by the brain. It has many functions, one of them being that of a mood regulator or mood balancer. In fact, studies have shown links between low serotonin levels and depression, although it’s unclear whether the level of serotonin itself that is the causative agent in depression or if it’s depression that causes low serotonin levels.
Nevertheless, what’s important here is to understand that making contact with a dear relative or close friend in an unexpected manner tends to cause a small spike in serotonin levels. That’s where the emotional proximity vs. physical proximity comes into play. Where it is impossible to achieve physical proximity, you can easily achieve emotional closeness. Technological advancements have literally put this power into our hands in the form of text messaging, phone calls, video calling, chat messaging, and so on.
The problem is, many of us are too busy to even pick up the phone and dial meemaw’s number. But, for one moment, put yourself in her tiny shoes and imagine what it’s like for her whenever you call! Her serotonin level will immediately go up, which not only improves her mood but does her a lot of other good, including helping prevent adverse physical conditions.
Consider this excerpt from a published paper on how to increase serotonin levels without drugs:
“Another reason for pursuing nonpharmacologic methods of increasing serotonin arises from the increasing recognition that happiness and well-being are important, both as factors protecting against mental and physical disorders and in their own right. Conversely, negative moods are associated with negative outcomes… mainly in relation to one of the biggest sources of mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD).”
Another study suggests that “Low social support is associated with higher levels of stress, depression, dysthymia and posttraumatic stress disorder and with increased morbidity and mortality from a host of medical illnesses.”
Yet another study states: “Social isolation and low levels of social support have been shown to be associated with increased morbidity and mortality in a host of medical illnesses. For example, in the well-known Alameda County Studies, men and women without ties to others were 1.9 to 3 times more likely to die from ischemic heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, cancer, or a host of other diseases within a nine-year period compared to individuals with many more social contacts. The effect of social support on life expectancy appears to be as strong as the effects of obesity, cigarette smoking, hypertension, or level of physical activity.”
The converse should be equally true: that a high level of social support should be effective against depression, etc., as well as mortality from several illnesses.
Logically, it goes to show that social contact and social support are crucial to both physical and mental well-being. It becomes even more critical when physical distance separates you from someone you’re very close to. The good news is that the physical gap can be bridged to a great extent by other means, including emotional support. One way to easily do that is by gifting your loved ones a friendship lamp that’s synced to your own unit at home.
Touching Lives with Friendship Lamps
Loneliness is a heavy cross for anyone to bear, and if you can lighten the load for a loved one far away, shouldn’t you make it a priority to do that every chance you get?
Friendship lamps help you do exactly that. By simply touching your lamp whenever you think of the other person, their lamp literally and figuratively lights up their world. And it’s a lot more convenient for you than scheduling time for a phone call or writing an old-fashioned letter (if you’re a millennial, you probably haven’t even heard of that second one!)
Considering what we’ve covered so far, let’s look at various scenarios where friendship lamps make sense and the benefits they offer:
People who are in a long-distance relationship (LDR) know the pain of separation better than most. Although there are numerous ways to convey love and affection to your better half who’s away from you, a touch lamp gives immediate results. It allows you to be spontaneous and let your bae know that you’re thinking of them at that very moment. It is also non-intrusive, which means you no longer have to worry about disturbing your partner when they’re busy.
Many long-distance couples use the friendship lamp to signal that they want to talk but only if the other person is free to take a call or get on chat. It’s a lot better than your spouse or partner hurriedly taking your call and being irritable – and regretting it later. Friendship lamps can help you avoid such conflict situations when both of you work full-time, which is often the case in an LDR.
Best Friends Forever:
Childhood besties are often separated because their parents move or they grow up and move away. Many of them keep in constant touch because they value each other’s counsel or simply enjoy talking to each other.
A friendship lamp as a gift for your best friend will be an absolute hit with them. Here’s what one buyer says: “These are the cutest gift! I get to let my Bestie know when I’m thinking of her ♥️ Love them Easy to set up and away you go”
It might seem strange that kids who are constantly at each other’s throats during childhood form the strongest bonds in adulthood. While we’ve shed some light in this article about how distance increases fondness, the love between siblings separated by distance is a unique one. All the years of apparent resentment are magically turned into a love for each other so deep that it baffles outsiders.
If you’re in that kind of relationship with a brother or sister, or even if you’re the oldest of several children who are now located in various parts of the country or around the world, a set of friendship lamps is guaranteed to bring a smile and a whole lot of warmth to the relationship, strengthening it even further.
This is what one big sister says: “I use these to connect with my little sisters that live across the country from me. So fun and special.”
Elderly parents or grandparents:
The elderly in so-called modern society sadly don’t get the kind of attention that senior citizens in many Eastern cultures get. In the West, you’re considered ‘past your prime’ or ‘on the way out’ if you’re beyond a certain age. In countries like China, India, and Korea, the elderly are revered for their experience and wisdom. Even closer to home, many Native American tribes consider elders to be the torchbearers of learning and wisdom.
Greece is another country where the elderly are not relegated to the garbage heap of humanity, to put it bluntly. In her book called “On Becoming Fearless… in Love, Work, and Life”, Greek-born author and businesswoman Arianna Huffington says this about her experience on the island of Rhodes in Greece:
“Ten years ago I visited the monastery of Tharri on the island of Rhodes with my children. There, as in all of Greece, abbots are addressed by everyone as ‘Geronda,’ which means ‘old man.’ Abbesses are called ‘Gerondissa.’ Not exactly terms of endearment in my adopted home. The idea of honoring old age, indeed identifying it with wisdom and closeness to God, is in startling contrast to the way we treat aging in America.”
Buying a friendship lamp for your aging parents or relatives can be a blessing in their lives. You might not realize it but every time you touch your lamp and send your unique color to their lamp, it will light up their life in more ways than you can imagine.
Parents are never really ready to let go of their young ones’ hands when the time comes. But life must go on, and empty-nesters who have recently had their kids move away for work or go off to college know the intensity of loneliness that suddenly hits them.
Today’s technology might allow instant contact across the globe but we need to acknowledge that, in reality, it’s easier said than done. An interesting study from a few years ago (around 2014 or so) showed that “99% of Americans have cell phones, but spend 26 minutes per day texting and only 6 minutes on calls.” People just don’t get on the phone as often as we might assume – even to talk to their closest friends, let alone family members.
A friendship touch lamp can change that and give your kids a reason to randomly reach out whenever they think of you. Isn’t that better than them “meaning to call you all week”?
The U.S. military has nearly a quarter of a million personnel deployed overseas, and a vast number of them are married and living away from their spouse. The truly horrific part of that story is that divorce rates increase as the time spent apart increases:
“Tracking the marital status of more than 460,000 U.S. service members between 1999 and 2008, researchers found that the specter of divorce increased with each passing month that a spouse was away at war.”
It gets worse…
“…where a combat tour is a factor, the female service members faces 50% chance of seeing her marriage fail during the first five years, the study shows.”
That’s the reality that military couples have to live with. If you, as a military spouse, can take some steps to communicate better, it might just save your marriage. Constant and frequent communication can go a long way in helping keep a marriage on solid ground no matter the circumstances, and a friendship lamp is one step closer to achieving the closeness you desire in your particular situation.
Now that we’ve seen just how important a simple act of communication like touching a friendship lamp and having your far-away loved one receive your love can be, you might be wondering how to buy some and how you can get units delivered to people on your “nice list”! Friend Lamps makes some of the highest-quality lamps available and each unit is carefully tested and certified before it is shipped. You can create separate orders with different addresses so they go to you and to other people.