Love is regarded as one of the positive emotions by theorists such as Barbara Fredrickson and Christine Branigan (2001) and George Vaillant (2008). The capacity to love and be loved is one of the 24 VIA character strengths that could bring us gratification and authentic happiness (Seligman, 2002). According to Fredrickson and Branigan (2001), love experiences are made up of many positive emotions such as interest, joy and contentment. Not only does love trigger these positive emotions, “it also broadens the momentary thought-action repertoire as people explore, savor, and play with the people they love” (p.132). Love as a positive emotion builds and solidifies our social resources.
When we talk about love, we often immediately think of romantic love. Yet our love is not limited to our partners. We can love our families, friends, and mankind in general. All kinds of love can bring us positive emotions.
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|Dutton, J. (2003). Energize your workplace: How to create and sustain high-quality connections at work. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.|
Fredrickson, B. L, & Branigan, C. (2001). Positive emotions. In T. Mayne & G. A. Bonanno (Eds.), Emotions: Current Issues and Future Directions (pp.123-151). New York: Guilford Press.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown.
For a summary of a talk that Dr. Fredrickson gave at the 2011 IPPA conference on love, see Kathryn Britton’s article, What is love anyway?
Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Gottman, J. M. & DeClaire, J. (2001). The relationship cure: A 5 step guide to strengthening your marriage, family, and friendships. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. New York: Basic Books.
Visit the Happiness Hypothesis site for information about the book. Some of the chapters are available online, including Chapter 6, Love and Attachments.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness. New York: Penguin Group.
Happiness activity 5 is Nurturing Social Relationships (pp. 138-149).
See Kathryn Britton’s review of this book.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues. Oxford University Press. PP. 569-582.
Chapter 13 describes the Ability to Love and Be Loved as a character strength. The chapter includes a discussion of deliberate interventions to develop the strength, enabling and inhibiting factors, cross-cultural differences, and measurements.
Notice that they describe the strength in terms of “being loved” as well as “loving.” Being able to accept love from others is important in addition to giving love.
“The capacity to love and be loved is now viewed as an innate, species-typical tendency that has powerful effects on psychological and physical health from infancy through old age.” (P. 305).
Cindy Hazan contributed to this chapter. In her bibliography, she cites her contribution as “The Human Capacity for Bonding.”
|Vaillant, G. (2008). Spiritual evolution: A scientific defense of faith. New York: Broadway Books.|
Capitalizing refers to sharing positive news out loud with trusted others. Gable et al have found that people remember good news more, it is more salient in their thinking, and it has a greater impact on their general sense of well-being.
Active Constructive Responding (ACR) refers to one of 4 ways that others can respond, as shown in the figure below. Active Constructive Responding means partnering with the other person to help them Capitalize – by asking questions that make them think of more to say about the positive event. All other ways of responding tend to have negative impacts, even passive constructive responding because it takes the wind out of the person’s sails.
With active constructive responding, it is helpful to consider the different impacts of person praise based on a fixed mindset (“You are so smart.”) and process praise based on a growth mindset (“You figured out a great strategy for solving that problem.”) Person praise tends to lead to risk aversion, whereas process praise tends to lead to openness to new challenges. (Dweck, 2006).
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Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Carol Dweck explains the difference between growth mindsets — where many things are possible through effort — and fixed mindsets — where people feel an urgency to prove fixed capabilities over and over again.
“Do people with this mindset [growth] believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.” (P. 7).
Gable, S., Reis, H., Impett, E., and Asher, E. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The interpersonal and intrapersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 87(2), 228-245.
Coaching toward happiness – Scroll down this page until you find the title, Shelly and Me, an interview by Ben Dean that introduces a good summary of Shelly Gable’s work.
|Active & Constructive Responding: A Clip from Reflective Happiness — Youtube of Martin Seligman Speaking|