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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 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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Turning me into we (DW#335)

Have you noticed that when we are feeling negative unpleasant emotions such as anger, anxiety or fear, we feel quite alone and distant from other human beings?

When our bodies and brains are experiencing such emotions, they are designed to contract. In other words, we develop tunnel vision and cannot see anything or anyone except our own pain and our own problems. In fact, the problems in our life appear large and crowd out anything except the pain.

When we have a headache, for example, do we notice anything anything but the headache? Do we notice that our knees, stomach or feet are fine? Not really. The headache becomes the focus of our life. The headache expands to push everything else out of our awareness.

On the other hand, when we are experiencing pleasant emotions such as gratitude or joy, our focus widens beyond ourselves. When we are feeling positive emotions, we can include others in our field of awareness. Our awareness expands from our habitual focus on "me" to a more...

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Connecting with others makes you happy, healthy and spiritual (DW#334)

Continuing our discussion on the new theory of love, Barbara Fredrickson explains that ‘micro moments of connection’ or ‘positivity resonance’ make us healthy, happy and spiritually connected.

"Love is our supreme emotion" writes Fredrickson: "Its presence or absence in our lives influences everything we feel, think, do, and become. It’s that recurrent state that ties you in— your body and brain alike—to the social fabric, to the bodies and brains of those in your midst. When you experience love—true heart/mind/soul-expanding love— you not only become better able to see the larger tapestry of life and better able to breathe life into the connections that matter to you, but you also set yourself on a pathway that leads to more health, happiness, and wisdom."

Fredrick son’s claims are borne out by others doing similar work.
According to research findings of psychologist Susan Pinker, it's not a sunny disposition or a low-fat,...

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The magic of positivity resonance (DW#333)

As we discovered yesterday, Barbara Fredrickson’s new theory of love suggests that "Love blossoms virtually anytime two or more people – even strangers – connect over a shared positive emotion, be it mild or strong".

She explains that the feeling of love is a biological phenomenon, a phenomenon where three separate but interwoven events synchronize for a moment in your body to create the feeling of love.

These events are:
1) A shared positive emotion or emotions between two or more people. These emotions although momentary, create measurable changes in brain wave activity in your brain. For example, if you share a moment of happiness or a joke at the same time with someone, it would be a shared positive emotion between the two (or more) of you.
2) A biological response in the brains of those sharing these emotions (she calls this biobehavioral synchrony). In other words, what happens in your brain has an impact on the other person’s brain which is also...

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