We know Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, created mostly to sell cards and flowers. But are we going to let that stop us from celebrating and understanding love? Not on your life.
That’s because love is what makes the world go ‘round—not only in song and movies, but in science, too. According to psychologists like Barbara Fredrickson, love is the supreme emotion, coming out of our evolutionary need to connect with others for survival. Of course, how Fredrickson defines love is not exactly romantic. To her, love entails:
- A sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another;
- A synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors;
- A reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.
This view of love isn’t restricted to romance. Many studies suggest the sense of care and connection she describes is worth cultivating in every moment and domain of your life—even with strangers.
If you want to expand your capacity for love, there are a number of research-tested ways to do that.
First, take the quizzes (based on scientifically validated instruments) we offer here on Greater Good to help you figure out where you’re strong and where you might need improvement in cultivating love at home and in the world. Then, below, try one of the exercises from our site Greater Good in Action. Many of them are intended to enhance ties with a romantic partner—but they can be applied to many kinds of relationships.