"I love you, not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you."
As you may remember from a post I wrote not too long ago, I've been very influenced by a book I read recently called Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. The book really is essential if you're interested in positivity and living a more positive life (which I certainly am!). One thing the book does is highlight the ten forms of positivity, which are: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. One day I hope to write a post detailing each of these and their importance in our lives, but for now, as I'm focusing this month on love, I'm going to zero in on the last one. In the book, Fredrickson writes:
[Love is] not a single kind of positivity. It's all of the above, encompassing joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, and awe... In the early stages of a relationship...you're deeply interested in anything and everything this new person says and does. You share amusements and laugh together...As your relationship builds and perhaps surpasses your expectations, it brings great joy. You begin to share your hopes and dreams for the future together. As the relationship becomes more solid, you sink back into the serenity that comes from the security of mutual love. You're grateful for the joys your loved beloved brings into your life, as proud as their achievements as you are of your own, inspired by their good qualities, and perhaps in awe that the forces of the universe that brought you two together.
Love, as anyone who has loved or has been loved knows, is a wonderful, crazy thing, and when I read Fredrickson's analysis of the term love in relation to positivity, I have a better understanding about why love is as magical as it is. It's a complex thing, but it's also quite simple: love makes you feel good. It does so many things, but at the most basic level, love makes you feel uplifted, happy, and positive. Fredrickson writes, "Love also changes the inner chemistry of our bodies. It raises out oxytocin and progesterone levels, biological responses linked with lifelong bonds, trust, and intimacy." Love is literally a surge of positivity within us. Let's take a closer look at how love affects us positively...
9 Positive Aspects of Love
Interest: When you first meet someone you're destined to fall in love with, you're super interested in his/her life and everything about him/her. I think this is actually one of the first signs that you really like the person. When you're not all that interested in someone, there's no way you're likely to fall in love with him or her. But when you're so interested you can think of little else... well, that's usually the first sign of love.
Amusement: Some of the best times I've ever had with loved ones involved laughing so hard my face and sides hurt. It's wonderful to love someone and to be able to let go with that person and just laugh and laugh and laugh. It can be difficult sometimes to get to a place where one feels comfortable enough to amuse others and it's also hard sometimes to just let go and be easily amused. Love, I've found, brings out that desire to see the silly and to look for the good, amusing aspects of life.
Joy: Joy is the most obvious when it comes to falling or being in love. When you're around someone you love, you can't help but feel joyous. Love isn't all sunshine and roses, but, for the most part, there's a lot of joy. When you love someone, that person makes you truly happy and spending time with him or her uplifts you in ways you may not have felt possible. Often, when you are with the one you love, even the worst situation can seem like fun. True love brings happiness and fills your life with joy.
Hope: This one has a double meaning in my opinion. First, I believe that love gives you hope. When you experience love (even from friends and family), you feel like there is hope for good things. You believe that there is goodness in the world. Secondly, when you fall in love, you share your hopes with that person. You let him or her inside your mind and allow him or her to know what really is important to you. You make plans for the future with this person, placing hope in the fact that your relationship with stand the test of time. Hope can be a fragile thing, but it's very important when it comes to love.
Serenity: This one happens to be my personal favorite. Love is when you get to that point with another person when, no matter what is happening, you feel a sense of peace when you're with him or her. Your life could be chaos, everything could feel like it's falling apart, but when you're with the one you love, you feel calm. You feel safe. This sense of peace is not easy to come by and, for that reason, I don't take it for granted. There are few things in life that can make us feel as at peace as we do when we're wrapped in the arms of the one we love.
Gratitude: I try to practice gratitude on a regular basis, being thankful for those around me and the amazing things they do for me, and loving someone else is a great way to do this. We should all be extremely grateful for the love we have in our lives and we should do whatever we can not to take it for granted. We should strive to make every single day a loving one, expressing our gratitude not only through words but through actions as well. It's easy to take things for granted, but a great love makes that hard to do. When you are deeply in love, it's hard to be anything but grateful.
Pride: Have you ever seen a loved one do something amazing and felt such a swell of pride that it shocked you? I know I have -- and it's pretty awesome. It's great to feel proud of yourself, but it's extra exciting when you can feel proud of someone else. I experienced this not too long ago and it was such a great feeling, such a sign of love, that I was a bit overwhelmed. I realized that it really is the true test of love -- to feel really good that someone else is going something that's important to him or her. Pride is usually thought of as a negative, but in this case it's a true positive.
Inspiration: When you fall in love with someone, that person should inspire you. If s/he doesn't... well, I don't know if that's the best kind of love. The best kind of love is the kind that makes you want to be the best you. The best kind of love makes you want to do the things you love to do and to do them well. When I'm in love, I'm motivated, I'm excited, and I'm most definitely inspired. I also am hopeful that I'm inspiring the one I love as well and I do my best to make this happen. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but love is one of those amazing things that almost always inspires.
Awe: Love definitely is the type of thing that deserves this word "awe." In fact, the word could have been created simply for love, it's that connected. When you love someone, you're in awe of him or her. And, not only are you in awe of how awesome s/he is, but you're in awe of the relationship you've found. Anyone who's ever had a really great love knows that it's pretty astounding when it does happen. It can feel like the craziest thing to find someone who seems to fit so perfectly with you and, quite honestly, it's nearly impossible not to be in awe of that. Love is awesome and it deserve all the awe it can get.
Now that we've covered the nine positive aspects of love in more detail, I'd like to know what you think. Love is so unique, so magical, so special that it doesn't necessarily fit into a neat box filled with nine positive traits. Love is grander than that. Any box it's put in, it explodes from, shattering all of our expectations and leaving us staring up at it like the brilliant sparks sent flying from fireworks. Love is complex, love is fascinating, and love is so very important when it comes to positivity. So I want to know what you think love is. I want to know what love means to you. I want to know what aspects you think have been left out of this list. And I want to know just how love brings positivity into your life.
What are some additional aspects of love?
What does love mean to you? How does it make your life positive?