Written by Liv Wright, Founder of The Wise Boudoir
I’m calling it my Valentine’s Day book: Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become. I just finished reading it. It’s written by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D. and invites us to look at love not in the exclusive-romantic or family-friendship bonding way we’re used to, but in a biological way that nurtures our health, happiness, and well-being.
In the book, Fredrickson coins a new term for love – positivity resonance – and uses it to talk about the fleeting “in tune” micro-moments we have with others every day that cause our brain chemistry to light up in special ways and our bodies to secrete the juices we associate with feelings of love.
She’s in that new generation of scientists who use MRIs and other brain scanning technology to see what’s going on backstage while we do life. The take-away from this book is that love is not the enduring emotional state we thought it was. Loyalty, bonds, and commitments endure. But the emotion we call love is fleeting and lives in our bodies in ways we’re just learning about.
The micro-moments she points to are ones we don’t typically regard as good for our health: the smile the conductor offers on the commuter train, the free muffin the deli man gives you with a gentle nod, the laugh-filled debriefing we do with friends after this week’s episode of our favorite TV show, the long hug we give to our kid who is home from college.
The health-promoting biological benefits that these activities stimulate go on without our knowledge. What we do know is that we feel “connected” to others in these moments and our bodies like the feeling. We don’t thrive as human beings without such connections, Fredrickson says.
After reading her book, I could see that my ignorance about connection was keeping me in the dark about what I could be doing right now. In the section about Social Connections, I saw how I wrap myself in my own issues and miss opportunities to be “in tune” with others.
I felt a lump in my throat when I did the Social Connection exercise. In it, Fredrickson asks us to pick three social interactions we have during a typical day and rate ourselves on whether we felt “in tune” with the person/s around us and whether we felt close to the person/s. It wasn’t easy to admit how unconnected I am in my social connections.
As a Boomer, I’m thinking now about health, happiness, and well-being differently and am eager to adopt all that science has to say about quality of life for mature adults. If thriving as a healthy mature adult means embracing love in this new way, then I’m ready to listen to what my body needs and wants.
What I learned this week is that my body wants me to share my positive emotions with others and feel positive emotions from them. It wants to be connected to other humans.
I’ve been thinking about intimacy a lot over the last few years, but I didn’t know until I read what I’m calling my Valentine’s Day book that love happens in those micro-moments we share with others throughout the day when our positive emotions dance together and keep us all healthy.
Image Source: Erkskine Issac