“Love …nourishes your body the way the right balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil and water nourishes plants and allows them to flourish.”
Valentines Day seems like the perfect time to tell you about a new book about love. But it requires us, the reader, to set aside our notion of what love is. It’s not about a feeling, or category of relationships, or something that you can fall into or out of.
The upgraded version of love that author Dr. Barbara Fredrickson asks us to consider in her new book, Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Becomerequires words like “life-giving” and “nourishing” to define it because her well-known research lab has found evidence that “love fundamentally alters the biochemicals in which your body is steeped.” In other words, love affects our physical health, our vitality and our overall well-being. She writes;
“Love is the essential nutrient that your cells crave: true positivity-charged connection with other living beings. Love …nourishes your body the way the right balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil and water nourishes plants and allows them to flourish.”
Barbara Fredrickson knows a lot about positivity. She’s a scholar in the field of social and positive psychology and her work at the University of North Carolina has given “scientific legs” to the field of positive emotions. In her first book, “Positivity,” she made the case that we need a daily ratio of 3 positive thoughts to 1 negative emotion to step up to a whole new level of life. (See my review of this book here.)
In “Love 2.0,” she describe love as “positivity resonance;” a trifecta of events that involve sharing positive emotions between you and another; a synchrony between your and the other person’s’ biochemistry and behaviors; and, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.”
But no emotion lasts forever. It’s momentary. “It’s far more fleeting than we’d care to admit,” she added in a video posted on YouTube. ”The loving and committed relationship you have with your spouse or partner is a bond you share that tills the soil for frequent moments of love.
“Love..is something we should re-cultivate every morning, every afternoon and every evening. Seeing love as as positivity resonance motivates us to reach out for a hug more often or share an inspiring or silly idea or image over breakfast. In these small ways, we plant additional seeds of love that help our bodies, our well-being and our marriage to grow stronger.”
For those who don’t have a Valentine just yet, she suggests ways to “seed and cultivate the conditions for love all on your own.”
“Slow down and prepare your own heart and mind to be truly open to others. Reflect on moments of connection, actively seek these moments out, or condition your heart with the time-tested good wishes of loving-kindness meditation (KLM). Try these practices and watch what then unfolds between you and others, using your own body as your tuning fork to spot love’s presence.”
Dr. Fredrickson’s book (and website) includes more than a dozen of these KLMs, “lab-tested” tools inspired by Buddhist traditions, that can unlock love in our lives, generate compassion and even self-soothe. “They are designed to condition your heart to be more open and loving.”