“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.” ~John Bulwer
I am very fortunate to have come from a loving family. My family members have a wide range of personalities, and even though they’re all very opinionated, they are not judgmental in the least.
Growing up around these amazing people allowed me to recognize that superficial differences don’t matter much when people share a profound love.
Regardless of whether you’ve experienced this type of bond, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of love.
Love acts as a buffer against stress and helps you avoid being overcome by negative emotions.
Even when you feel frustrated, anxious, or annoyed, you can still be aware of a certain blissfulness that exists outside your current mood. Studies have shown that love helps you feel more nurturing, socially connected, motivated, and inspired; it also fosters a feeling of overall happiness.
What Is That Loving Feeling?
All these benefits are amazing, but what about romantic love? You know, that heart-pounding, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling you get when you’re around your beloved? Those romantic sensations come from the brain’s dopamine-rich reward center. Romantic love also triggers brain regions rich in oxytocin, which is a chemical that helps us bond with others.
These areas of the brain are the same as those associated with desire, addiction, and euphoric states, so it’s no surprise that new love really can feel like being under the influence of a drug.
Now, you might think that love—or the feeling that we perceive as love—doesn’t last.
Just as your body builds up a tolerance to a drug, the feelings of arousal, fear, and reward that come with the anticipation of something new can fade as a relationship matures. However, to say that the feeling of love itself disappears would be a mistake in perception.
As time goes on, those butterflies are replaced by more trust. It’s still love, but it’s a different stage of love.
Your initial focus on compatibility turns to a more complex understanding of what you like and don’t like about your partner as you get to know him or her better. The process of falling in love is really meant to serve as a way into this deeper, more complex understanding of another human being.
How to Fall in Love Every Day
Staying in a loving state isn’t a matter of finding your soul mate; it’s a state of mind or being. It’s a willingness to purposefully connect with another person, and it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. If you want to feel connected and in love every single day:
1. Look for the good.
Deliberately focus on things you like about three to five people in your life, and write down those things. This act of gratitude can boost your happiness, and focusing on what you like about a person can bring you closer to love by triggering positive feelings.
2. Find commonalities.
Sometimes I joke that I want to hug everyone at an airport. On a literal level, this sounds a little intrusive, but it’s just a metaphor for my delight in the connections we have to one another. When you recognize your connections to other people, the love you feel for them is the same love you feel for your family and friends.
Ask yourself what you have in common with the people with whom you spend a lot of time, either in a personal setting or a professional one. This will help your brain feel more synchronized and in a state of harmony.
3. Pay attention.
Too often, we take important people for granted. If you already have someone you love in your life, deliberately attend to him or her in person, or keep a reminder of your love nearby. Deliberate attention stimulates the brain’s reward center and makes us feel good.
Meditation calms the mental chatter and helps your brain feel less anxious. Love will come more easily as you find yourself at peace with the world through this practice.
Imagine the beauty of a world where people experienced love daily, a world in which the connection between beings was recognized and celebrated by all. That world would be filled with people who were engaged, tolerant, and less violent.
The idea of “falling in love” is most valuable if we view it in terms of how we are all connected by a unified consciousness. Use the above techniques to find greater compassion in challenging circumstances or simply as your contribution to improving a world in need.
This is not a fake state of pretending to be connected, but rather a genuine effort to express the full power of connection that you possess. Love is the gateway to a much larger consciousness if you use it to transcend rather than simply appease the self.
Girl with heart-shaped glasses image via Shutterstock