Embrace Love 2.0 to be Happier and Healthier

As much as I’d like to think I’m an ambivert, the truth is, I tend to be a bit of a hermit. I like my own company, I enjoy being by myself and perhaps most telling, I’ll often cross the street to avoid a conversation.

Spending time alone is important, but I do need to learn how to be a healthy introvert. When I hide away from the world I miss out on the opportunity to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Barbara Fredrickson —author of Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection— says the positivity we feel when we connect with the people around us nourishes us more than any other source of positivity.

But here’s the interesting thing: Barbara doesn’t mean ‘nourish’ in a touchy feely kind of way. She says we need to appreciate how our heart —in the literal sense of the muscle beating inside our chest— appreciates love.

An Upgraded Definition of Love (Love 2.0)

Before we get into the science of love, we first need to upgrade our definition of it. Fredrickson claims our traditional view of love as the emotion you feel for your lover or kids or family is too restrictive.

Instead, she says we need to radically upgrade our view of love. We need to embrace the notion that love is far more ubiquitous than we might imagine. For the simple reason that love is connection.

It’s the welling in your heart when you hug a friend, gaze into a newborn’s eyes or experience a shared sense of purpose with a group of strangers. Love 2.0, as she calls this upgraded version of love, is available to us all the time.

To tap into the source, all we need to do is connect with another human being —even a stranger— over a shared positive emotion. These micro-moments of warmth and connection, when we are truly present and engaged, are where love hangs out.

When shared positive emotions, biobehavioral synchrony and mutual care come together at the same time, a life-giving positivity resonates between and among people. Barbara calls it ‘positivity resonance.’

The Science of Love (or, What Happens in Vagus)

Barbara’s aim with Love 2.0 is for us to notice love from our body’s perspective, rather just just our mind or heart. Because love is more than just an emotion that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s actually good for our health, too.

One of the world’s leading positive psychologists, Barbara has spent the last two decades exploring the science of positive emotions at the University of North Carolina. What she’s found is the ripple effects of Love 2.0 can be seen in the very ribbons of your heart, right down to the cells of your immune system.

When you actively seek out and engage in micro-moments of love, changes occur at a biological level. Your vagus nerve is called into play. Emerging from your brain stem deep within your skull, this wandering nerve (as it’s also called) connects your brain to your heart.

Science has shown that people with higher vagal tone are more flexible and adapt better to change. They regulate their internal bodily processes more efficiently, are more adept at regulating their attention and emotions. They’re also socially more skillful.

The good news is that our vagal tone can be developed. This is not a once-off practice, however. We need to make it a habit to slow down and connect with our fellow humans. When we do, we’ll enjoy more positivity resonance.

“You can no more expect to become healthier through a single, isolated micro-moment of positivity resonance than you can by eating just one piece of broccoli per year,” Barbara says. “Yet just as a steady diet of a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables does indeed make you healthier, so does a steady diet of a wide range of loving moments.”

Where to Find Positivity Resonance

micro moments of connection

These micro moments of connection are everywhere, we just need to be open to the possibility. It means putting your phone away and getting out of your cocoon of self-absorption. For me, it means not crossing the street to avoid a conversation.

When you’re at the check-out at the grocery store, take a moment to engage with the cashier. Ask them how their day is going and be interested in their response.

When you walk past a stranger on the street, smile. When you sit down next to someone on the bus, greet them.

Stop and acknowledge the homeless person, even if you don’t have anything to give. Sometimes a smile and a kind word can make all the difference.

Do this often enough, and you’ll find your mood lifts and the day seems more inviting. Throw in some hugs and it’ll be even brighter.

In the beginning, embracing Love 2.0 might feel uncomfortable (I know it did for me), but it definitely gets easier and more enjoyable the more you do it.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

80 comments

Winn Adams
Winn A2 months ago

Thanks

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Roberto M
Roberto MARINI2 months ago

thank you for this interesting article, Angela

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R3 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Richard B
Richard B3 months ago

thanks very much

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Hannah K
Hannah K3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Greta L
Greta L3 months ago

thank you

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Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo Custer
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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