Healthy Diet, Exercise, and Love: A Recipe for a Good Life?

By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT 

Heart waffle
Pixabay[Heart Waffle by MoneyforCoffee, May 5, 2016] CCO

“What if everything you know about making love is wrong?” Dr. Barbara Fredrickson wants us to know that our typical ways of thinking about love are entirely too limited and do not serve us well. In her Tedx video shared below, Dr. Fredrickson shares some important, and potentially life-changing, information about her findings on love and health. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Taking love off of the romantic pedestal: Perhaps we should start looking at love from a scientific perspective so that we can see that it is so much more than just “that one special person”. Dr. Fredrickson suggests that science doesn’t have to take away the sparkle of love, but can actually teach you how to make love all day long.
  • Making a connection: Love is an emotion. And, like all emotions, love is fleeting. It happens in a span of a micro-moment (hugging a friend, laughing at something funny with a co-worker, smiling at a stranger you see in the car next to you while you are sitting in traffic). When you are truly making a connection with someone else, your heart rhythms, your biochemistries, and your neural firings come into synch.
  • The more connection, the better: We aren’t just talking social and psychological changes for the better here; we are talking physiological changes as well. Dr. Fredrickson has taken a special interest in the vagus nerve which slows your racing heart after you become scared and slows your heart rate a bit each time you exhale. The vagus nerve also establishes your biological capacity for connection. The functioning of the vagus nerve is not stable like we once thought. Dr. Fredrickson has found that if you find ways to increase your daily “diet” of these “micro-moments” (establishing connections) each day, your vagus nerve functioning improves which ultimately results in the rhythms of your heart becoming healthier. These moments of connection are just as good for you as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  • Every interaction is an opportunity: Fredrickson invites you to open up to the prospect of taking risks and being vulnerable so that you will ultimately be healthier and happier. “Your heart’s capacity for love obeys the biological law of use it or lose it. So, choose love.”

Dr. Fredrickson’s research can teach us all something about changing the way we view love and how we can weave this essential element into our daily health regimen.

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The MFLN Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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