Try This Exercise:

Each night, for a few weeks, review your entire day and call to mind the three longest social interactions you had that day. These could be with family, friends, co-workers or completely new acquaintances, and it doesn't matter whether the same person shows up in more than one interaction.

Thinking of these three interactions all together, consider how true each of the following two statements is for you:

  • During these social interactions, I felt "in tune" with the person (or people) around me.

  • During these social interactions, I felt close to the person (or people).

    Now, rate the truth of these two statements on a scale from 1 to 7, in which 1= not at all true, and 7 = very true. Record your responses in a journal or notebook.

    Why do this:

    Merely reflecting on potential moments of positivity resonance seems to serve as a gentle reminder about your ever-present capacity for love. A small shift in attention, such as this, could well lead to a large change in your overall health and well-being.

    My graduate students and I first included a brief nightly reflection task like this in one of our many longitudinal studies a few years back. What we didn't expect was that our experimental group would show increases over time in both social connections and positive emotions. We'd never seen this before. Across several past studies in which we'd asked people to provide daily reports of their emotions, we'd never seen improvements simply due to the act of regularly reflecting on feelings. But in this study, we did see that. The only difference was that we'd added these social-connection questions.

    Even more remarkable, increased feelings of social connection forecast changes in the functioning of people's physical hearts. If it weren't for this pronounced effect, we might have dismissed the result as mere wishful thinking or attributed it to the possibility that our study participants simply got wind of our interests (in social connection and positive emotions) and told us (through their daily reports) what they thought we wanted to hear. Yet the fact that reflecting on social connection appeared to penetrate the body to affect enduring heart rhythms made us take a closer look.

    My students and I suspect that the daily question serves as a subtle cue that reminds people that each of their social interactions is indeed an opportunity for something more than just an exchange of goods or information. With this in mind, people may begin to approach each interaction with a bit more presence, aiming to cultivate genuine, intimate connection rather than miss out on it.

    Love 2.0 This adapted excerpt was taken from Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD.

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