Love Under a Microscope: Building Positive Connections

By
Todd Hall
In
Personal Development
Posted
April 5, 2015

We tend to view love as a static thing. Something that remains true about ourselves and relationships. “I love my wife.” That’s been true since before we got married, and it’s still true today. I’m committed to my wife. That’s a reflection of my love for her, right? “I am a loving person.” Most of us would like to think this is a true statement all the time. Not just on good days, right? We’d like to think it’s part of our character. And character is something stable that resides in the structure of my inner being.

Love 2.0: Positive resonance

In her recent book Love 2.0., psychologist Barbara Frederickson asks us to set aside these conventional views of love to consider a different perspective. Love, she suggests, is the positive connection between two people that occurs in a moment of time. It may last several moments—maybe even minutes or hours if we’re fortunate. But it’s transient. To use slightly more technical language, love is the resonance of positive emotions between two people, or “positivity resonance."

Love is the positive connection

I recently heard Frederickson give a talk on the subject and she noted how often she gets reactions to this different take on love. She often starts with what love is not. Love is not commitment. Love is not a bond. What??! We have deep beliefs (even if unarticulated) about what love is, and it’s often difficult to loosen our grip on these views.

Reacting to love

An important question is why do we tend to react this way to this new formulation of love? At least one reason is that we prefer to view love as something static—something we don’t have to work toward each and every day in every interaction. Rather than just lower the bar, we just get rid of it altogether. "I’ve arrived. I’m a loving person. I love the people in my life." We’re afraid if the bar is there, it will be too high. We’ll feel overwhelmed.

Lowering the Bar

What Frederickson actually does is lower the bar so we can more effectively focus on the building block of all expressions of love: positive connection or resonance. Even if we think of love more broadly as promoting others’ well-being (including your own), I believe this starts with positive connection. Relational well-being is the most important aspect of a person’s overall well-being. Love, then, must start with positive connection, or resonance.

COACHING EXERCISE FOR THE WEEK

This week, focus on creating positive connections with others in the present moment. One interaction at a time. Here are four tips to help you:

  1. Be present.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Tune into others' emotions.
  4. Share meaningful experiences with others and invite others to share theirs.

I hope these tips help you build positive connections in your life and work! 

For more insights on developing meaningful work and relationships, sign up here for my newsletter. As a welcome gift for joining, I invite you to take my free MCORE quiz, discover your #1 motivation, and elevate performance and meaning in your work and relationships.

Photo credits: "Biology Lab, ca. late 1930s" via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); "Firmiana platanifolius (F37)" via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)