The other day while I was buying lunch at our local food coop, the check-out person smiled at me and wished me a good afternoon. I did the same, and we shared a beautiful moment of genuine social connection.

As a neuroscientist who has spent the past 30-plus years looking at human emotion and the brain, I have studied the effects of positive and negative experiences. I’ve learned that our brains are in many ways like the muscles in our bodies, capable of developing strength at core skills or losing that strength if we don’t exercise enough.

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