Oxytocin Makes a Grown Man Cry

We just got back from a relaxing vacation in Mexico last Wednesday. Ok, there was a day or two where it felt a bit tenuous.

While there was some talk of COVID19 around the pool, the only visible sign that something dramatic was happening in the world was the steady decline in the resort guest population each day.

The magnitude of the situation came crashing in on me on the return trip home after the cabin door to the plane closes and the flight attendant makes an announcement. She says, “We’re sorry there won’t be any service on the flight but we have water and a snack in the seat pouch. While this won’t be the level of service you would expect from our airline, we are available if you use your call button. Welcome aboard as we repatriate as many of our customers as possible.”

Repatriate? Bam! It hits me like a ton of bricks and it must be a surge of oxytocin as I immediately well-up and can’t control my emotions. This is more than a typical day at work for the crew.

I am very grateful to the staff at AirTransat who got us home safely and to the staff at every airline who are travelling abroad in empty airplanes and returning home with a cabin full of passengers.

It happens again as we clear customs in Halifax. Approximately half of the Border Security Agents are wearing masks and the other half have none. They are prompt, efficient, and caring. As I try to say thank you to the Border Guard who is accepting us home, I can not speak. I suspect it is another rush of oxytocin flooding my body – leaving me a babbling baby.

Over this past week, every single time I’ve told this story and even as I write in this moment – same thing – I get an overwhelming emotional feeling of love, peace, and connectedness brought on by oxytocin.

When you help, you bring on oxytocin in others. And when you’re helped or witness helping, oxytocin is brought on in you.

Cheers to more oxytocin!


Steve Foran
Steve Foran
I began exploring the relationship between gratitude and philanthropic giving while completing my Masters in Business. Since then, I’ve been writing and conducting practice-based gratitude research and teaching the habits of grateful leadership - close to fifteen years now. What has emerged is our science-based program, Gratitude At Work. It's a simple, yet innovative approach to thriving leadership and business growth. I founded Gratitude at Work in 2007 and started hosting conversations in my community which have since grown into work with leaders across Canada and into the United States, shifting cultures, helping leaders and their teams bring more gratitude to work each day. My 2019 book, Surviving to Thriving - The 10 Laws of Grateful Leadership, was named 1 of 8 recommended reads by Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley and 1 of 5 positive psychology books for a happier 2019 in INC. Also in 2019, I was an inaugural winner of Canada's CEO Trusted Advisor Awards Program. I’m a son, brother, husband, father and newly minted grandfather. My kids poke fun at my gratitude work (air quotes) and in 2017, I was awarded the highest earned designation in professional speaking, CSP. I recently created STATUSGRO to give everyone easy on-line access to the secrets of gratitude and grateful leadership. I’m a lifelong resident of Halifax and doing my part to make my community a better place to live.

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  1. Welcome to the Biz Catalyst family, Steve and thank you for sharing this piece! I’m glad that you made it safely back. I find that I’ve been crying randomly since all this surfaced. Emotions are running the gamut these days, but we are in this together. And together we will come out on the other side. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    • Hi and welcome Steve
      I can relate to the overwhelming thankfulness for being back to your homeland.
      When 911 happened, I was in Tokyo, Japan, and was away from my two children. Our layover in Singapore was met with military rifles and soldiers everywhere… I couldn’t wait to see my babies.

  2. 👏👏👏 Yes that was the only possible way for me to start this message Steve! I love this short, yet full of wisdom and pure emotions masterpiece 💎

    Oxytocin is my favorite hormone followed by the Serotonin!

    That’s the reason we feel ourselves so attracted to servant leaders without being anle to control it! They simply continuously provide us with limitless amounts of this magical chemical! 💙🌞💙

  3. Oh my goodness, Steve, I was right there with you, when you shared the flight attendant’s announcement! That must have been frightening and overwhelming for every person on that flight. I flew from NY back to Austin, just shortly after the New Rochelle news broke and experienced something similar. Life carries a new perspective. Thank you!

  4. Steve, welcome to this plateform, hope to see more. A little confused but with humor in that Oxytocin in its definition seems to refer to biochemistry and synthesis during labor. We labor for love no doubt. I hope the onset of Oxcytocin was successful in minimizing the labor pains from your journey.

  5. Beautiful, Steve. Yes, may the oxytocin continue to help us remain connected in gratitude, compassion, and love..even if it’s through our words on a screen leaping with energy into our eyes, minds, and sinking in our hearts. I’m happy to know you are safe and well. Welcome to BizCatalyst360!!

  6. I suspect that you and I would get along quite well, as I get misty fairly easily. Still being on vacation (since March 11), but all of it has been in the US, we may have some re-entry issues ahead of us yet. Thanks for sharing a great piece!

  7. Steve – You have become part of a unique family here at BC360 so welcome. May you find respectful engagement and encouragement for your writing. Finally, friendships are created here that become very special and will become folks you can reach out to when oxytocin overwhelms you. 😄

    • Thanks for the nod and good point. I believe willingness to expose emotion is a strength vs a sign of weakness, which can be more difficult for men due to how popular culture defines the role of “men”. Thoughts ?

    • I grew up in an era where everyone knew “Real men didn’t cry.” So sad, but it was the times.

      Of course, there are still some who think that’s true, but I think that men who can show appropriate emotions are the best kind of have around!