People who experience more moments of ‘felt love’ during the day have better mental wellbeing, research finds.
This type of love does not need to be romantic — it can come from all sorts of sources.
These moments include things like a friend asking after your health, receiving a nice compliment or getting heartfelt thanks from a colleague.
Brief experiences of connection and love in everyday life like these are also linked to greater optimism and purpose in life.
The study suggests that paying attention to small everyday moments of connection could improve happiness and optimism.
Dr Zita Oravecz, the study’s first author, said:
“We took a very broad approach when we looked at love.
Everyday felt love is conceptually much broader than romantic love.
It’s those micro-moments in your life when you experience resonance with someone.
For example, if you’re talking to a neighbor and they express concern for your well-being, then you might resonate with that and experience it as a feeling of love, and that might improve your well-being.”
The conclusions come from a study of 212 people who were prompted by their smartphones to report their felt love and wellbeing six times per day over four weeks.
The results showed that as the study went on people noticed more examples of love and connection in their own lives.
It could be that being asked to notice these moments increased people’s awareness.
Dr Oravecz said:
“It’s something that we’ve seen in the literature on mindfulness, when people are reminded to focus attention on positive things, their overall awareness of those positive things begins to rise.
Similarly, just by paying attention to those everyday moments of felt love, we may also increase our awareness of the overall positive aspects of love in our daily lives.
This effect replicates in both studies, implying that raising awareness of felt love in day-to-day life may itself be an intervention that raises levels of felt love over a longer period of time.”
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Oravecz et al., 2020).