Ever had "a micro-moment of positivity resonance?"
That's love, says psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, whose new book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become attempts to reframe how we view the sensation – and help "lonely" people survive Valentine's Day this year.
Fredrickson, who researches positive emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, argues that love is "not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship," writes Emily Esfahani Smith at The Atlantic.
Instead, Fredrickson believes that love happens in much smaller bursts through the in-person connections we make daily, from lovers and close friends to children – but also much more temporarily with your work peeps or even a stranger in a restaurant. Drilling into the biology of "positivity resonance," Smith writes that you have to be in physical proximity of the other person to experience the micro-moment, and that a cocktail of mirror neurons, oxytocin and something called "vagal tone" is necessary for the good vibes to take hold.
"My conception of love," Fredrickson told The Atlantic, "gives hope to people who are single or divorced or widowed this Valentine's Day to find smaller ways to experience love."
"I love the idea that it lowers the bar of love," she continued. "If you don't have a Valentine, that doesn't mean that you don't have love. It puts love much more in our reach everyday regardless of our relationship status."
I'm sure all those solo diners who have to vacate their favourite restaurants come Feb. 14 will be thrilled to hear it.
Fredrickson's idea is reminiscent of the book The Gaggle: How the Guys You Know Will Help You Find the Love You Want. The authors, two women who were clawing to find love in New York, defined the "gaggle" as the group of men in a woman's life who fulfill different roles and needs, helping a girl figure out what she's actually after. One part of the gaggle approach is to treat every interaction with men as potentially flirtatious: "The potential for love is all around you" is the mantra here as well.
Is "positivity resonance" a healthy way of looking at love, or is it denial?