Love 2.0

Barbara Frederickson, in her book Love 2.0: How our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything we Feel, Think, Do, and Become presents love as a collection of moments rather than a long and sustained feeling. She calls love a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.”

According to her, love is a momentary connection with another person, filled with positive emotions. These moments can come with friends, family and even strangers – not just with romantic partners. The Atlantic article “There’s no such thing as everlasting love according to science” reviews the topic and summarizes this phenomenon succinctly: “Louis Armstrong put it best in ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ when he sang, ‘I see friends shaking hands, sayin how do you do? / They’re really sayin’, I love you.'”

I’d bet that this feeling can even come during arguments, because it is about connectivity to another person, not just warm fuzzy feelings.

I like this conception of love, that it is a great but momentary feeling. If you want more love in your life, you don’t need to find the One. You only need to make more of these moments each day.

As Brene Brown analogizes in Daring Greatly, relationships are like a jar of marbles. When you have one of these “micro-moments of positivity resonance” with someone, you can place another marble in the jar. Just remember that the marbles will leave the jar due to disengagement or inaction. Conceptualizing relationships as a collection of little moments rather than a whole, we can change the way we think about our personal and professional relationships.

Good luck making these moments, and Happy Valentines Day!

To love is good for the health too: it increases vagal tone, which is highly related to these lovely feelings. It turns out that the figurative heart is truly related to the literal heart!

P.S. I’ve decided to start writing during my lunch breaks. Normally I read articles or take some other break, but why not use the time to blog?

Here’s an article by the author of Love 2.0 that summarizes some of her major points: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/24/health/love-psychology-book

Editor’s note: Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of a new book on love.

(CNN) — In writing the book “Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become,” here are 10 lessons I have learned:

1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it.

The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body’s perspective. Love is not romance. It’s not sexual desire. It’s not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others.

And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.


Barbara Fredrickson studies positive psychology.

2. Love is not exclusive.

We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.

In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.

3. Love doesn’t belong to one person.

We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person’s mind and skin. Upgrading our view of love defies this logic. Evidence suggests that when you really “click” with someone else, a discernible yet momentary synchrony emerges between the two of you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror one another in a pattern I call positivity resonance. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.

4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love.

Your body has the built-in ability to “catch” the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love — defined as micro-moments of positivity resonance — nearly limitless. As hopeful as this sounds, I also learned that you can thwart this natural ability if you don’t make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony.

5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier.

Decades of research show that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. Yet precisely how social ties affect health has remained one of the great mysteries of science.

My research team and I recently learned that when we randomly assign one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love serve as nutrients for your health.

6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love.

Too often, you get the message that your future prospects hinge on your DNA. Yet the ways that your genes get expressed at the cellular level depends mightily on many factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or chronically lonely.

My team is now investigating the cellular effects of love, testing whether people who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells.

7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects.

It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have any lasting effect on your health and longevity. Yet I learned that there’s an important feedback loop at work here, an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being.

That is, your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love.

8. Don’t take a loving marriage for granted.

Writing this book has profoundly changed my personal view of love. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of positivity resonance that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day.

9. Love and compassion can be one and the same.

If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn’t true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person with whom you connect suffers.

Love doesn’t require that you ignore or suppress negativity. It simply requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation be added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs.

10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it.

The latest science offers new lenses through which to see your every interaction. The people I interviewed for the book shared incredibly moving stories about how they used micro-moments of connection to make dramatic turnarounds in their personal and work lives.

One of the most hopeful things I learned is that when people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits. And this is something you could start doing today, having learned even just this much more about how love works.

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Getting something from someone

To get something from someone, you must first ask them. Usually they require that you do something for them or threaten to leave. You may not threaten them, but you can threaten to disengage.

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Thank Goodness It’s Friday

I’m happy after completing plenty of work this week. Soon it’ll be 5pm, and I can jump for the door.

I’m thankful for moments like this, when I’m happy and satisfied. Thank you.

Showing gratitude is very important. You must appreciate the good when it is there, be thankful for it, and learn from it in the same way that you learn from many other experiences. Otherwise, how will you know what it feels like? When it’s not there? How to find it again?

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How Meditation and Self-Awareness are Good for You

A key step on this path to warm fuzziness is indeed a kind of austere detachment–a cool appraisal of your own emotions that involves dropping your instinctive labeling of them as “good” or “bad,” and allows you to see them, in a sense, more clearly, and that leads them to slowly loosen their grip on you.

From “Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy?” at the Atlantic

I find this reminiscent of the lessons from Brene Brown and “Love Yourself like your life depends on it”. Except this version captures both books in one eloquent, though long, sentence.

He continues:

Which brings us back to the irony I alluded to above: Why do certain good feelings–in this case the pleasurable appreciation of beauty–endure, indeed deepen, even as affect more generally subsides? You would think that since detachment in theory neutralizes positive and negative feelings equally, it would leave you affectively neutral, like Mr. Spock on Star Trek, who, so far as I recall, didn’t spend much time reveling in life’s aesthetic delights. But, as a practical matter, that’s just not the way it works. Cool detachment leads to something that feels kind of warm.

And that emphatically includes warmth toward other people. I remember a day or two after my first meditation retreat, riding in a little monorail car that takes you to Newark airport from the nearby train station, striking up a friendly conversation with strangers. Believe me when I tell you I wasn’t previously known for that kind of behavior. Fortunately for strangers everywhere, this phase passed.

Self-awareness in this form helps you understand both yourself and those around you better. Because you understand yourself and are kind to yourself, you also understand others and in turn are more kind to them.

Great article, but overall I like my conclusion better. What do you think?

Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy?

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The importance of meaning in life

This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”

– Viktor Frankl,

“There’s more to life than being happy” – The Atlantic

From the article:

In a new study, which will be published this year in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology, psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans aged 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy. Examining their self-reported attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables — like stress levels, spending patterns, and having children — over a month-long period, the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

“Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others,” explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania. In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. “If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need,” the researchers write.

The study participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.” For instance, having more meaning in one’s life was associated with activities like buying presents for others, taking care of kids, and arguing. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people. Having children, for example, is associated with the meaningful life and requires self-sacrifice, but it has been famously associated with low happiness among parents, including the ones in this study. In fact, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, research shows that parents are less happy interacting with their children than they are exercising, eating, and watching television.

“Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy,” Baumeister told me in an interview.

Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.

Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. “Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future, was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life,” the researchers write. “Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future.” That is, people who thought more about the present were happier, but people who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives, though they were less happy.

Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life. Another study from 2011 confirmed this, finding that people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rate their satisfaction with life higher even when they were feeling bad than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose. “If there is meaning in life at all,” Frankl wrote, “then there must be meaning in suffering.”

….

The wisdom that Frankl derived from his experiences there, in the middle of unimaginable human suffering, is just as relevant now as it was then: “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

Baumeister and his colleagues would agree that the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

– “There’s more to life than being happy” – The Atlantic

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Writing, Promotions and how it ties into Self-Worth

I read a few striking things today in my spare time. They were interesting in their own right and subject, but they all tied back to a philosophy or way of living that I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about lately.

Writing

The first article was about writing tips from David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising”. What resonated with me and inspired me to write this post is that: (1) “The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well” and (2) “Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well”. I write this blog, in part, to learn to write well and think well. According to David, thinking well leads you higher professionally.

Jump through the link to see other sharp snippets like: “Write the way you talk. Naturally” and “Never write more than two pages on any subject”.

Promotions

I just joined Quora, and, I must say, you should too. There are so many deep questions on Quora.com that you’ve asked yourself before, but on Quora, you’ll find answers from experienced and thoughtful posters vetted by the Quora community.

The post on What are the real reasons some people get promoted and others don’t? caught my eye in the weekly digest that Quora emails. There were the usual commenters who dismissed most promotions as “politics” or favoritism. However, other posters responded with earnest and thoughtful answers that struck a chord.

First of all, you must look at promotions from the perspective of your company and your boss. Your company usually won’t promote you unless they have an opening and you are the best for that opening, even against outside competition. In the eyes of a superior, what makes someone a prime candidate for promotions are communication skills, initiative and, a perquisite, doing your current job well. They want someone who can take things off their plate whether it’s an initiative that you can push forward or some form of communication or influence. You should be able to build support for an initiative and you certainly shouldn’t need to be prodded along. You should be well liked by colleagues and understand them, so that you can communicate to them efficiently and influence them when necessary.

Another poster highlighted five patterns of extraordinary careers that he discovered when he led one of the most comprehensive studies on this topic in 2003:

“1) Understand your value. How does your company REALLY make money. What are they really paying you for. Translate all your options for impact toward those things that create the most value for your employer.

2) Benevolent leadership. Those who get promoted are much more statistically likely to focus on the success of their peers and subordinates, more than their own success. Over time, you create an army of supporters.

3) Overcome the Permission Paradox. How do you get the job without the experience, or the experience without the job? Top performers redefine their permission to gain more and more valuable experience.

4) The 20-80 rule. 80% of what you do is meeting your objectives. And 98% of people meet their objectives. It’s what you do with the 20% you really control that counts. Don’t just exceed expectations. Redefine them.

5) Follow your passion. There is a lot of pushback on this recently. But the statistics showed overwhelmingly that those in jobs that leverage their innate strengths and passions performed better and were promoted at much higher rates.”

Self-Worth

Maybe I can’t tie all these things into self-worth, but let me try…

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to move up in my organization and get promoted. The lack of movement and the sense of doing the same thing over and over is frustrating me. I’ve been blaming my bosses for not paying enough attention, for keeping me down by giving me too many tasks, for playing favorites. When I read the Quora posts about communication, connecting with your peers, initiative, overcoming the Permission Paradox, and going beyond your comfort zone, I realized how I’d been protecting myself by avoiding the point: that I wanted and needed to work on those skills to move higher.

These articles and posts made me think back to books like “Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, “Love Yourself like your Life Depends on It”, “Growth Mindset” and “The Procrastinator’s Digest” and quotes like “you have to learn to love yourself, before you can love someone else.” To me, the act of communicating, connecting with peers, and initiative are tied intrinsically to self-worth, vulnerability, and motivation.

Self-worth can help you realize that you are enough, that you can be yourself and be a leader. The ability to be vulnerable allows you to show yourself and in turn brings connection and engagement. Motivation and understanding that these are skills, not personality traits, inspires me to work on these essential skills.

Perhaps I will expand further in another post, but getting these on paper is enough for now. I think David Ogilvy was right, “People who write well, think well… People who write well will go higher.” Plus, he’s allowed to stop now since this post has reached two pages. Hopefully these books, my blog, your writing and life in general will help us move higher.

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Learning about Business from Family and Friends during Christmas Break: Part 2

I want to recount a few business-related stories from my Christmas vacation at home with family.
Two uncles from my Dad’s side, the eldest and the fourth oldest sibling (my Dad is the 2nd eldest), were coming with their families to my parents’ house in West Virginia.
Before they came, my Mom did a few preparatory chores. We weren’t too busy. In the middle of the day she remembered to ask my Dad to clear out the toilet pipe from the 1st floor to the septic tank. I helped my Dad open the tank and haul out the pipe cleaning apparatus. The apparatus was called the Cobra and it had 2 blades on the end of a metal rope that would rotate on a motor.
My Dad’s job was to shove that thing in and tear up anything in that pipe. My job was to flush, flush again, flush some more, and wait until my Dad said stop.
For some reason, the lack of a specific end time for the flushing bothered me. He couldn’t tell me when the flushing could end, because he had no idea how much cleaning the Cobra would have to do. However, it still irked me – perhaps because I didn’t understand why or how long I was supposed to do the job? The uncertainty grated on me.
It took a while and I got impatient. Every 15 minutes or so I would ask my Dad: “How is it was going?” He kept saying, “Keep flushing!” That just made me more impatient, because I had no better idea than when I had come outside to ask. One time, I said, “Should I poop in it to test it?” My Dad replied, “no”, flatly. My Sister, my Mom and I cracked up.
Well about 45 minutes to an hour later of straight flushing every minute or so, all the gunk finally cleared. My Dad said it felt good – “ahhh.”
The moral of the story was that not giving someone a definite end date and explaining the meaning or reasons for a task (even something as simple as flushing for a while) leaves the task-doer annoyed and impatient.
Anyways, that was resolved before my Uncles’ families got there. Once they arrived, I noticed how good my Mom was at asking for tasks or favors. Maybe she learned to do it well at her office, which she shares with my Dad and another internist couple.
She would approach me or my sister and say, “Could you do me a favor?” It felt good to be asked! Of course my sister and I wanted to help. Then, she’d ask me to do something mundane but useful, like bring up the Kimchi from the fridge downstairs.
After dinner, I partook in a long held Park tradition of getting drunk on single-malt Scotch. The Uncles love doing this and enjoy it when I join in for the ride.
That evening, my fourth oldest uncle had his small business on his mind. He had left an ER job a few years ago to start an urgent care facility. The project had worked, after some big cash flow problems initially, and he had expanded through the region with other urgent care facilities.
He talked about how success in his first urgent care had opened up so many doors for him. From increased bank loans and decreased rates , to real estate, and growing his business.
He also talked a lot about the risk, the down times, the sense of ownership, and being your own boss. All this came with the experience of starting his own business with his partners. He left a cushy institutional job and put his money and career on the line for this business.
Most of all, he emphasized that he didn’t regret it one bit. He loved it all: being your own boss, taking the risk, persevering through hard times, and coming out on top. Not everyone comes out on top. Many businesses fail. Even if you’re business does well, you’ll probably be cognizant of businesses around you failing, as your success takes market from a competitor.
To me, his main message was that you’ll never be fully ready to take a risk like this. There’s simply no way to be ready. You have to prepare as best you can, convince yourself that it can work, and try your best. However, there’s no better time to take this risk than now, when I’m young. I’m not tied down by family responsibilities and huge cash flow responsibilities excepting rent, of course, which could be reduced by moving or eliminated if I have to move back home.
The problem is that young people often don’t have the courage to take that risk. We aren’t secure enough, prepared enough, knowledgeable enough, strong enough, smart enough – or so we say in our minds. The advantage that older people have is that they’ve often discovered the beauty of saying, “I’m enough.” When you believe you’re enough, you come from a place of loving and belonging. You are worthy to share yourself with the world and risk being hurt. The paradox is that to realize that you are enough, you first have to say it.
The key is to realize the difference between saying it, faking it or just doing in spite of your misgivings and believing that you are enough. Remember, attitude follows behavior as much as behavior follows attitude. Just say, “I’m enough.” Get inspired. Just get started.
Thanks.
P.S.
Read the Procrastinator’s Digest post to read more about the behavior vs attitude subject: https://parkking.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/procrastinators-digest/
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