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Express physical affection (DW#345)

Science is making it clear that our brains and our bodies are designed to thrive with affectionate touch from our loved ones.

While we affectionately hug and cuddle young children naturally, this seems to taper off as they grow, although human beings never actually outgrow their need for loving touch.

Various studies have shown that people of all ages experience increases in physical and emotional wellbeing when they experience affectionate and appropriate touch.

Studies have found that when a husband holds his wife's hand during labour, for example, her pain measurably decreases. And interestingly, the more empathy a person feels for the person in pain, the more their brains are synchronized and the feeling of pain diminishes.

Scientists have also found that subliminal touching (touching so subtle that it’s not consciously perceived) dramatically increases a person’s sense of well-being and positive feelings toward the ‘toucher’.

One study found that people...

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More than a peck (DW#344)

According to our friend Dr. Gottman, couples should kiss for at least 6 seconds at a time, every day, to maintain a healthy relationship.

Why six seconds? According to Dr. Gottman, this "kiss with potential" is "long enough to feel romantic," yet it doesn’t make the kids late for school :)

It turns out that kissing has many many health benefits as well: it releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which means that the more you kiss, the more you bond.

Kissing also releases dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. The butterflies you get in your stomach when you kiss? They come from epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increase your heartbeat and send oxygenated blood to your brain. Some studies have even shown that kissing can cause a reduction in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so kissing could help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

So for part of the OTL challenge, kiss your spouse for 6 seconds twice a day for the...

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The eyes are the gateway to the heart (DW#343)

When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eye?

When we are first courting, we may spend a long time lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes but this becomes a rarity in long term committed relationships.

Yet scientists believe that eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness. Although hearing someone’s voice such as over a telephone, may sometimes create a micro-moment of connection, physical presence is generally essential for bonding and attachment.

A meeting of the eyes then, is a key gateway to neural synchrony. When you look another person in the eye, your brains activity synchronizes and in some ways, the two brains start behaving as one.

So for today’s OTL challenge, find an opportunity to look your spouse in the eye. It can feel weird and vulnerable at first, especially if you have not done this in a while.

Please don’t let it stop you.

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The 60 second secret to great relationships (DW#342)

It is human nature that we begin to take what is going well for granted. Our brains have a default setting to pay attention only when something is off or not to our liking.

Intentional relationships that bring us joy require us to switch off our default settings. They require that we begin to notice all the things that our family members do on a daily basis that are pleasing or make our life better in some way.

And then to share our appreciation with them.

It is a simple but powerful practice to pay attention to what is going well.

I call it the 60 second way to turn a relationship around.

Start noticing what they are doing right, and express your appreciation for it and then watch the magic happen.
You’re welcome

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The OTL challenge (DW#341)

We have been talking about building love by taking advantage of the micro-moments of connectivity and positivity resonance.

For the next few days, lets explore some practical ways we can practice OTLs (opportunities to love).

The key is to make practicing OTLs
1} intentional and
2} consistent
until they become part of your relationship rituals.

Are you ready to begin the OTL challenge? Commit to creating at least three micro-moments of connection every day with your significant other and watch love blossom.

For those of us who are feeling less than creative at the moment, we will share some simple OTLs to consider. Of course, feel free to add to these and do share if you come up with a creative OTL that we can learn from!

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The magic ratio (DW#340)

Let’s be realistic. Every exchange that we have with others will not be positive. In fact, the closer and older the relationship we have with another, especially our family members, the more likely that there will be times when we are less than our best selves (to put it mildly!)

Thankfully, our close relationships can survive with a bit of negativity. But in order to thrive, we do need to keep the negative interactions to a minimum.

According to Dr. John Gottman’s extensive research, there is a very specific ratio that makes marital love last.

That "magic ratio" is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction, a stable and happy couple has five (or more) positive interactions with each other.

What this means for love in our relationships is that even during conflict, we need to be intentional about keeping the tone respectful and friendly, show signs of affection, humor and fondness for the other.

In other words we can find OTLs even when the other person is...

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The biology of love is momentary (DW#339)

As we have been saying, when two or more people are sharing micro-moments of connection, it creates a back-forth exchange of warmth and positive energy that sustains itself and can grow stronger with each exchange.

The positive energy or "positivity resonance" (aka love), however, only lasts as long as the connection. When the connection wanes, so does this resonance or biological love response.

This is of course inevitable, because it is how emotions work. They come and they go.

In order to sustain these feelings and the positive energy they generate, we need to keep finding OTLs and keep practicing these gestures to create these micro-moments of connection.

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Looking for OTLs (DW#338)

We have been talking about nurturing love in our lives by practicing micro-moments of connection with others.

But given that in today’s world, we live in a "cocoon of self-absorption", how do we move from *disconnection* to connection?
One of the simplest ways to practice the art of connection is to intentionally be on the lookout for opportunities to perform
acts of intentional, deliberate connection and kindness in daily life.

Small gestures such as making eye contact with the check out clerk at the supermarket, asking how their day is going and being emotionally present to the answer, holding a door open for someone, allowing another driver to enter your lane, helping someone carry a load, moving over to make room for someone all have the potential to count as OTLs.

Simply pause for a moment to notice and become present to the feeling of goodwill between you and another human being in these micro-moments.

You will have delighted another with your small gesture, but you will...

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You can love anybody – and everybody (DW#337)

One of the most exciting things about the upgraded version of love that we have been discussing these days is that it’s not limited to our most intimate relationships (yet, very importantly, can be practiced most frequently within them).

When we allow ourselves to open up to the possibility of creating micro-moments of connection, we can create this positivity resonance with others and experience the extraordinary gains in health and happiness that go with practicing this supreme emotion.

So go ahead. Look for opportunities to share a positive micro-moment of connection with another human being.

How many opportunities to practice love (OTLs) will you take advantage of today?

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Your love hormone (DW#336)

Have you heard of oxytocin?

Oxytocin is called the "bonding hormone" because it surges during sexual activity between people and during lactation in nursing mothers. When oxytocin surges within, human beings feel good and bond with another human being, creating new attachments or cementing existing ones.

The surge of oxytocin is so large during these particular moments of relationship activity that until recently, scientists did not realise that oxytocin is also released during subtler and low key moments, such as playing or cuddling with your children, getting to know someone new, sharing a personal story, trusting someone or being trusted by them.

During such everyday activities oxytocin is also released, leading to good feelings and attachments with others.

Oxytocin also works in another way. It turns off the "alarm system" of the brain by calming the amygdala so that you can put down your guard and get closer to the other person. To put it another way, the release of oxytocin...

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