Love is one of the most mysterious things in life. It can confuse us, enthrall us, and even make us crazy. It can cause our heart to pound and our palms to sweat, and it makes us yearn for people in ways we couldn’t imagine. Love can also inspire us to act in selfless ways we’ve never before, such as putting the needs of others ahead of our own. It’s no wonder, then, that we spend so much time trying to understand this phenomenon called love.
There are many different theories of what love is, but no single definition is universally agreed upon. Some scholars believe that it’s a biological cascade of hormones and feedback pathways in the brain; others describe three or more phases of emotionally-based love. The concept of love can also be complicated by the fact that it may vary in intensity and meaning across individuals, cultures, and time periods.
In the past, scientists have compared the brain activity of people in love with those of healthy people and those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They found that both groups experienced an increase in blood flow to the area of the brain responsible for emotion. But the people in love were more likely to feel intense emotions than those with OCD. The researchers concluded that “love is a powerful emotional state, and it alters the brain in ways that are not fully understood.”
The concept of love can also be complicated by different feelings we have towards the same person. Often, people experience both companionate and passionate love, with the latter being more related to the need for intimacy and closeness while the former is associated with feelings of attachment and commitment. Some people also have religious or spiritual feelings of love that are separate from companionate and passionate loves.
It’s important to note that some people are naturally more optimistic than others, and this can impact how they view the world around them. This optimism can also be inherited, according to research on twins. In addition to genetics, there are a number of other factors that can determine how happy a person will be, including personality traits such as neuroticism (which leaves a person more vulnerable to anxiety and depression) and extraversion (which encourages more gregarious behaviour).
A recent study of more than 3,000 participants found that loving someone else, spending time with family, seeing the sun set and rise, climbing into bed with freshly washed sheets, and listening to a favorite song were all major happiness boosters.
When it comes to finding and keeping true love, there’s no doubt that the best way is to let go of expectations and embrace the uniqueness of each person and relationship. However, this is easier said than done in a world full of social media pressures and toxic relationships. It can also be helpful to develop psychological flexibility, which is the ability to mentally shift between pleasure and pain and to tolerate negative emotions and uncomfortable situations.