As we approach Valentine’s Day, our notions of love are often focused on those of a romantic nature. Today’s message about love requires broader thinking than that. In fact, it might even require you suspend some of your ideas about love. The kind of perspective we are going to be talking about today is your body’s perspective and experience of love. Recent scientific evidence (from Carolina university under Barbara Fredrickson) shows that love (as your body experiences it) is not sexual, not romantic, not the connection you feel to your spouse or child but rather just a micro-moment of connection shared between yourself and another. This means that the benefits of love can be experienced hundreds of times a day and are not confined to romantic or family connections. In fact, love can be experienced anywhere, with anyone and we should take Key Steps to embrace these findings because…

Love helps you live longer and keeps you healthier. How…?

1. Love strengthens the connection between your brain and your heart. 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. Barbara Fredrickson’s research team recently learnt that when they randomly assigned one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, they lastingly improved the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connecting your brain to your body and regulating numerous bodily functions. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love benefit for your health.

2. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects. Even a micro-moment can have a lasting effect on your health and longevity. And an important feedback loop that creates an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being. The more micro-moments you experience, the healthier you become and the healthier you become, the more you are able to create micro-moments of love.

3. Love and compassion can be the same. Because we are talking of love as micro-moments of shared positivity or a positive connection, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. This of course isn’t the case. You can experience 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 acknowledgment be added. As Barbara Frederickson puts it (in her book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become), “Empathy is the form love takes when suffering occurs.”

So this week, you can use these interesting research findings to make significant turnarounds in both your personal and work life. All it takes is just a minute or two each day to think about whether you feel connected and attuned to others and then consciously create that positive connection if need be (it’s as simple as eye contact, awareness of the other’s state of being and showing interest in them), and you’ll initiate a cascade of benefits you can hardly imagine. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day, do it today and every day after that and you’ll…

“be the difference that makes the difference