The other day while having a very serendipitous day, I found this message on the ground in Davis Square in my special town of Somerville. Somerville has become a hot bed of artistic energy so it is of no surprise that some beautiful soul took it upon themselves to spray paint the side walk with “You are Perfect!” That day was a special one with signs from the Universe galore that things are going to be more than okay. I saw as I was making my way through the square to head off to teaching yoga. Later I became inspired to begin looking back at information focused on the science of Love. I turned back to a researcher I saw speak in September at the Harvard Coaching and Leadership Conference: Barbara Frederickson. Her work has been in the area of researching the science of positive emotions and most recently love in her book “Love 2.0.” In this YouTube video she represents a similar talk that she presented at the conference
I came back to her work in an effort to help us better understand the connection between self love and the possibility for positivity in our lives. Perfection is often a goal that while is often sought, is also unattainable for humans. While this is true, there is something in the above statement that sends the message that we all are perfect in this moment. The key is helping us see this in the moment.
Frederickson speaks in her lecture about what love is and what love isn’t. She states that love is not sexual desire, a special bond, a commitment (although bonds and commitments can come from love,) it’s not exclusive, lasting or unconditional. Hmmm seems like what she is saying is that love is NOT what is in the movies. Wow, that’s a shocker! She states that love is to be experienced in micro moments which when put together can form bonds and commitments that last but not necessarily. It is a shared positive experience between you and another person. It has mutual care and biologically driven behavioral synchronicity between people (this is “the click”.) Safety is key to form loving connections as well as shared interests and shared laughter. If we take what Frederickson has to say and apply it to ourselves, we would then be working towards creating a relationship in which we showed care, safety, curiosity and awareness towards ourselves. In order to do so, we would need to first acknowledge that we are deserving of such attention. So many folks these days are externally focused on their work, their family, their employer, coworkers, the traffic, the crowds, the deadlines, etc. When we become so caught up in the external we slowly begin to dim the light within. The less attention you pay inward, the less care is given to yourself. The less care you give to yourself, the more unhappy you become. It’s really just as simple as that. Things go from being perfect in the moment to being fairly miserable as the downward spiral of external focus continues. How do we catch ourselves from this downward spiral? How do we begin to realize that we are more than enough and we deserve our own love and attention?
Awareness is the key. When I am not present in the moment, I have no hope of taking care of myself. I act in ways that are not self loving such as pushing my body well beyond it’s limits. The breath is the doorway into awareness. Cultivating mindful attention to the breath will give you a momentary break from all the external madness. When we begin to create a loving kind relationship with ourselves we see that we too are in need of a loving connection with others. When we are externally focused we are all about what we can do for others. But the road goes both ways. Loving connections need safety, authenticity and physical connection in real time (this is eye contact, touch, hearing someone voice. It is NOT texting as that is reading words and does not do the same to our brain chemistry. Yes, a lot of us have fallen prey to technology.) Smiling is also key to loving connections as it not only expresses joy but they have the ability to transmit joy as well. Authentic smiles only come when you are happy on the inside. We can fake smile but that does no good for our brain chemistry or that of others. The key to this process is being present and willing to receive these gifts. There are two parts of communication: talking and listening. We need both to create neural synchronicity with others which leads to that feeling of clicking and feeling authentically seen by others. Love is as key to human existence as food, water and shelter. It is needed in order to help us thrive. But all of this has to start within with you realizing and embracing that you are more than enough. For those SNL fans out there think of the skit Stuart Smalley “Because I’m Good, Enough, Smart Enough and Gosh Darn-nit People Like Me.”
For today, how will you show some love to yourself and spread the message that you are more than enough? I am going to take a walk around Boston later in this beautiful day in November and go to a yoga class. I may even frequent my favorite bookstore/cafe Trident just to top it with a cherry!