We humans have a pre-programmed tendency to focus on the negatives and to scan our environment for problems. These skills helped us survive in the more dangerous past, but in the present, they can contribute to higher levels of anxious and depressive symptoms.
While this may be our fallback approach to life, it can be reprogrammed. Working to attend to the positives in our life, and especially to micro-moments of feeling love, can really help us have a more positive sense of self.
As we go through life, we have numerous opportunities each day to connect and feel loved. Love in the general sense, not necessarily romantic love, can be enormously helpful for our sense of well-being. When we share a moment with a neighbor. When a friend expresses her concern for us. When we laugh at something on the subway and catch a fellow passenger’s eye also laughing with us. When we think of how we love our partner. All these moments help us feel more positive and connected in the world and in our life.
A recent study shows one reason why this can be so helpful for our well-being (Oravecz et al., Personality and Individual Differences, 2020). In this study, 200+ people were surveyed (at 6 random times a day) to get a sense of when and how they felt love and how this impacted their psychological wellness. The researchers found that people who experienced higher awareness of moments of love and connection in everyday life had significantly higher levels of psychological well-being. These individuals also felt more of a sense of purpose and were more optimistic.
Additionally, these researchers found that as the subjects paid more attention to moments of love in their lives, they increased their awareness of love in their daily lives. Paying attention to something positive snowballs in a wonderful way. As we pay more attention to this thing, we notice it more and experience it more. Which leads to us paying attention to it more….
So, feel the love in your life. Look for those small moments when you connect with someone, when you share a moment, when you feel loved by or cared for about someone. Let these feelings into your heart and really let yourself experience them. As you feel the love more, you will have a greater sense of well-being and be more open to these special moments that happen regularly in our lives.
-Track moments when you feel loved throughout the day. Either keep a small notebook with you to jot these times down, or track it on your phone.
-Keep a Love Journal. Each night, right before you go to sleep, write in a small notebook you keep next to your bed. Record at least three moments from the day when you felt loved. Take at least 20 seconds to feel this love and let it really sink in. This is a lovely way to end the day, and it has you attend to these incidents during the day.
-Be open to people in your world as you go through your day. If you often wear ear buds, at least at times, leave them out and hear the sounds of life around you. If you tend to be on your phone, turn it off sometimes or leave it at home. Pay for items with an actual cashier instead of using the self-check line. Choose to engage in life. Be more aware of people and the opportunities you have to feel love and connection.