Thursday, February 14th, 2013
You love your kids, partner and family members–adding extra kisses and hugs today for Valentine’s Day. But did you know you love the person who makes your lattes or waits next to you at the doctor’s office, too? I am writing this post from Panera Bread right now (my free ‘office.’) I had a sweet interaction with the young woman who sold me the chocolate croissants I bought for my kids. When we complimented each other and smiled, was that really love?
It was precisely love, according to the new book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become. Author Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D., a researcher at The University of North Carolina, expands the definition of love to include “positivity resonance.” It’s a breakthrough idea that she explored in her first book, Positivity. Dr. Fredrickson insists that our smiles, nods and gestures of optimism don’t just exist in us—they exist in others, too. When we interact in real ways—often through eye contact—our brains and bodies buzz with enthusiasm and appreciation. We experience small bursts of love with all people—and the best part is love begets love.
The idea of giving love to get love is especially true with our friends and family. If we frequently grant each other kindness—micro-moments that are essential nutrients to our bodies—our feelings of love deepen and increase. To foster more of these feelings, Dr. Fredrickson conducted studies on Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM). People who practiced a few minutes a day experienced more love in her laboratory. Don’t be put off by the idea of meditation–LKM is easy. Sit down in a quiet place (because I have three kids and a teenage babysitter, I usually have to hide out in a locked bathroom). Close your eyes and breathe deeply. In your mind, say these words: “May [insert person] feel safe. May she feel happy. May she feel healthy. May she live with ease.” Repeat a few times and create visuals in your head. Meditation is challenging for me, but I love this one. I always feel like hugging people when I’m done.
Give an extra squeeze to your Valentine, your kids and anyone else who is game. As for the cashier at CVS, a warm smile can do the trick perfectly.
I had the pleasure to ask Dr. Fredrickson a few questions about how her research and writing this book has changed her life. Here’s what she had to say:
KK: In your research, what surprised you most about love?
BF: The extent to which small shifts in the ways people think about their connections with other can, over several weeks, improve objective markers of health.
KK: What do you think is the most important message for your readers to take home from Love 2.0?
http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm: Most people think love is limited to romance, marriage, or to their inner circle of family and friends. While the experiences of love that you have with these special people may be especially intense and memorable, the emotion of love also occurs in milder forms and can emerge between any two people.
KK: What have you learned personally from writing this book?
BF: I learned how important everyday moments of connection are, with my kids, my husband, my students and colleagues at work, my neighbors, people in my town…. the list goes on! Thinking of love in this new way has changed how I look at any and all of the social interactions in my day.
As I wrote in the April issue of the magazine, I’m in love with Love 2.0.