Raleigh, N.C. — Valentine’s Day is all about romance and love.
“Love to me is being there, showing that you care about somebody, accepting their faults and them accepting yours,” said Melvin Edwards, who was buying Valentine’s Day flowers at Fallon's Flowers in Raleigh. “Just being there with someone special.”
But Barbara Fredrickson, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has a different take on the L-word. After two decades of studying positive emotions, she’s come up with a more complex definition.
“My definition of love is a micro-moment of positivity resonance,” Fredrickson said. “Anytime you're in this great conversation when you feel like you really click and you can feel some kind of an electric charge in your conversation, that's a micro-moment of positivity resonance.”
Her point is that love isn't necessarily that over-the-top romantic feeling that is so often fantasized about. Instead, Frederickson said, it's a series of moments that spark positivity and help us grow.
“Culturally, we tend to limit our idea of Valentine’s Day to be romance and sweethearts and loved ones, and I'm suggesting that it can be in any interaction that you experience today,” she said.
Fredrickson argues that love is smaller than we think, and bigger than we think.
“People who feel like they don't have a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day may feel like their opportunities for love are really diminished,” she said. “But in fact, any time we interact with another person we can experience this connection.”
There are different types of love, Fredrickson said. And it’s all around us.
“It's a state of mind,” said Chuck Dethloff, who was also buying flowers at Fallon’s. “And it’s something that is enjoyable to understand as the years go by. It changes.”