Love, a micro moment of connection with complete strangers. Not quite the earth shattering romance we grew up pining for.
Barbara Fredrickson, a leading researcher (with a PhD in human psychology) discounts our culture's misconception of romantic love. Instead she uses science to focus on the positive emotions that are associated with love. These feelings of love we can apparently get in everyday situations, with anyone. Wait, what?
"It’s utterly bizarre to think that we can experience love, at least this scientific definition of love, with a total stranger"
But how exactly is she defining love? “Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being." Warm fuzzies in a snippet in time. So then why do we fall in love with some people and not others?
"The clearest difference between the love you feel with intimates and the love you feel with anyone with whom you share a connection is its sheer frequency. Spending more total moments together increases your chances to feast on micro-moments of positivity resonance."
On a scientific level, as you spend more time together something called positive resonance occurs. Love alters the biochemicals in our brains, and you also begin to mirror each others gestures, speech and expressions. This synchronisation explains the click you feel with certain people.
The third, and perhaps most crucial component of love is a mutual desire to invest in each other. Love is an action, and the willingness to care for another's wellbeing.
All this is great news for those feeling a bit lonely this festive season. The first, and even the second stages of love can be experienced with those you pass in your day to day life - be it friends or total strangers. These moments of connection create the same feeling of love, and give the same benefits - a surge of happiness, immune system boost and natural glow.
“The love you do or do not experience today may quite literally change key aspects of your cellular architecture next season and next year - cells that affect your physical health, your vitality, and your overall wellbeing.” We are happier when we allow ourselves to feel love. We live longer, healthier and more satisfying lives.
So goal for this season? Get out there and try connect with the people you pass in your everyday life. Be open, be warm, be responsive and listen. Call it love, or call it whatever you want, but you might just be suprised by the warm fuzzies that arise.