We tend to think that close friends and our families are most important when it comes to our happiness, but social interactions, even with those sitting beside us on the subway, also influence our well-being, according to an op-ed that appeared this week in The New York Times.
It reminded me of the work of Barbara Fredrickson, director and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina. We wrote about her work, and her book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become last May:
“We may be accustomed to thinking of love primarily in terms of the intense bonds of romance or our ties with family and friends, but the simple fact is that ‘love is connection,” Fredrickson wrote. “Love blossoms anytime two or more people — even strangers — connect over a shared positive emotion, be it mild or strong.”
Fredrickson calls those connections “positivity resonance” — what happens when positive emotions are shared and amplified between people.
We’re hardwired to both crave and need those connections, Fredrickson maintains, and a steady diet of a wide range of loving— or positively resonant — moments make us healthier and lower our risk of disease.
Love 2.0 also offers clues to why networking is so highly valued at conferences.
‘Love blossoms anytime two or more people — even strangers — connect over a shared positive emotion,” she writes. “Micro-moments like these are those essential nutrients of which most of us in modern life aren’t getting enough.”