What is love?
So, you are at the grocery store and share a laugh with your cashier. You are walking through the mall and a stranger greets you with a gentle nod and silently wishes you a great day. Can these everyday moments be called love?
Of course first of all, love is an experience, an emotional response. The strong and sometimes intense positive feeling that rises both in your brain (with thoughts and chemical flushes) and in your body (there are physical sensations associated with this wave of emotional connection). Love, like other positive emotions feels good! However, love goes beyond feeling good, it quite literally changes your mind.
Love is a shared experience. Between two or more people, quite literally, the brains and the bodies of those who are experiencing the physical and emotional qualities of love are synced into each other. Our awareness of what the other person is experiencing is opened, as well as our eyes. We are quite literally opened up to one another when we feel love. We empathize, rejoice and understand each other at a higher level. Therefore, because love allows us to see and experience deeply, love is part of wisdom!
As all emotions, this feeling of being synced and connected has an ebb and flow, and eventually it fades away. We expect that of emotions, and in fact want the fade with our negative emotions. But love has been classically categorized differently. We want it to be ever present, ever available, and once attained, (if the right fit) permanent. When it fades as an emotion, many are left confused or at least disappointed.
Picture love more like an emotional meal. It is easy to understand that our bodies need good food and healthy balance to thrive. Love, as an emotional meal, comes in different shapes and sizes, with different qualities and packages. Sometimes, it is a feast that we prepare for with care and enjoy slowly. This leaves us feeling full and satisfied for a long time. Perhaps this is a planned outing with a spouse or other significant relationship that breaths renewed life and energy into that relationship. You talk deeply and openly with curiosity and care. You laugh together, touch, and are silly together.
Other times, love is quick and unplanned, a fleeting moment. A snack, fast food, or piece of fruit to keep us going and energized. These are the everyday interactions with those we care about and with strangers. Love is present anytime we are emotionally and mentally connected, we are “on the same page.” Love is a positive energy force, like and electric charge that happens ever so momentarily. It is a flow of positive emotion that is shared with others in real time.
As put by Fredrickson, in Love 2.0, “More than any other positive emotion, then, love belongs not to one person, but to pairs or groups of people. It resides within connections.” Therefore, if you have exposure to others, you have opportunities to share love. There is so much potential!