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I forget who claimed that Love is a process, not an emotion per se. But this book shows some of the science proven ways that Love can be obtained, by process. Good read as expected from Barbara Fredrickson.
I'll focus on what I see missing from the book rather praising the book's good qualities which persuaded me to give it 4 stars.
== Lack of Self-Love == I think of the greatest love is loving someone or something more than yourself. But the author does not mention this type of love. She appears to believe love is something to promote YOUR health or to promote the overall health of friends/family/society AS LONG AS it includes YOURSELF. She subscribes to the idea that you can't love others unless you love yourself, which I do not fully agree with for evolutionary reasons (see below). The psychology about first loving yourself can be summarized by "I would never belong to a club that would have me." (from Groucho Marx, and modified by Woody Allen to be "never date a woman..."). Yes, if you have low self-esteem you run the risk of blocking those who love you more than you think you deserve.
== Evolutionary Role of Lacking Self-Love == Not being able to receive love due to low self esteem may have an evolutionary role to play: If someone floods you with love and you do not think you are worthy of it, then you can be selfish to the genetic heritage of the species and accept their love to the detriment of those who DO deserve it, or be loving to the species and refuse their love so they can find someone "worthy". This author mentions "we are all the same" but I do not adhere to that philosophy when it comes to animals seeking a mate. Estimating that you are not be worthy and thereby not engaging in love can be a loving act to the rest of the species if in some evolutionary sense your offspring really would be detrimental to society. A related example: depression is known to have a role in not upsetting an established (and therefore supposedly appropriate) power structure.
Imagine a couple or group of people where each person values the OTHER(s) more. I think it might work out OK.
== Another Type of Self-Sacrifice as "Mechanistic Love" == In the western mindset that divorces itself from Christianity, self-sacrifice is assumed to be pathological. Then the "enlightened" western view is that the story of Jesus describes insanity rather than genius. But people living in 3rd world countries where successful reproduction is a pressing (but not immediate) matter still find the Christian mindset more useful in surviving than strict adherence to science because it helps form more "loving" connections. Self-sacrifice for each other without an immediate FEELING of love is crucial to their successful reproduction, and I believe this book is missing this aspect of love which I call "mechanistic love" as opposed to feeling love. An example is the "religious" marriage commitment to raise to kids together, or being kind to those in temporary need.
== Voluntary Submission == But there is another sacrificial love besides this cold "mechanical love". I fell in love with a woman and I find the book to be nearly empty in understanding my love for her. Knowing all the details of what I feel and why are only interesting. When you see someone (or some system of thought like science, capitalism, environmentalism, or religion) that you respect and admire more than yourself, then it is possibly healthy for the species (or system of thought that helps the species) for you to be willing to sacrifice yourself for that person or system of thought. Jesus on the cross is a symbol of absolute voluntary unconditional surrender. The word "Islam" means "voluntary submission". Both are at odds with the west's apparent need for self-love to drive the economic machine that does not necessarily lead to more happiness or self-fulfillment. Being able to experience this type of voluntary submissive love to be part of a larger group is a seductive opiate of religion.
== Science and Religion == That is not to say religion is right or wrong. Science and religion are two different data compression schemes representing reality that we use to survive and reproduce. Even science has to admit that survival and reproduction come before any truth can be known, so there is no science that can claim science is a greater God than religion. If religion causes emotional wealth and material poverty it might last longer than science that empowers unconstrained consumption.
== Mate Selection == If a man and woman stumble across each other and they each think the other is more worthy of their love than their own self, and it is a reliable and durable feeling both ways, then I think it is obvious they should get together and make babies. I think this book focuses too much on making sure the reader lives for others only in AS FAR AS it helps HIMSELF. This reductionist view and desire to control and enhance love are not part of my equation when I love someone, but it is assumed to be needed in a clinical setting where the goal is to help the person paying for the therapy (usually to get over unrequited love?). The mating equation and calculations are based only on estimating genetic contributions, which can make it a lot more reliable over a lifespan. A major problem in most people's life is in finding a good match, not in trying to force a thinking that everyone we meet has this potential that we should enhance for personal gain. This book can be a guide to discovering to whom you want to surrender, but it does not philosophically discuss this final step of mutual surrender with someone you perceive as greater than yourself, and that it might be OK rather than pathological. "Opposites attract" is a calculation where one is weak where the other is strong (skinny legs like fat legs and vice versa). There is also a calculation based on what one admires most about himself (intelligence, attractiveness, etc) and may require it his mate before considering her to be genetically greater.
== Amazon Reviewers Self-Sacrificing == Everyone posting a review here is showing more love for readers than for himself by sacrificing their time (and admittedly improving their own health) without making any knowable positivity connection to others except knowing others are interested in the same subject. I did not see a reference to this type of love even as it falls within the scientific parameters the author describes. You might say those of us posting are showing low self-esteem in not using our time to better profit our genes. But it also increases healthy chemicals in our system. So there can be more complexity to what the author and I have said, and yet fall within our viewpoints.
== Love of Hobbies == Another kind of love the author and I don't encompass very well is the way I feel when I am not learning more science or engineering. I love to get lost in thought, to be completely unaware of myself, like my "soul" leaving my body. It seems almost as great as my greatest moments with a woman. I just want to show there is some complexity.
To live for something outside of yourself (not merely "connect" or "merge") is a great joy. Helen Fisher's TED talks show a more human approach in calling love a motivational system rather than an emotion. She is not afraid to tell the audience that someone in love will answer the question "Would you die for him/her?" with a "yes" just as carefree and easily as if you had asked them if they could pass the salt.
The author's "broaden and build" framework of understanding the benefits of positivity is an important method of finding optimal solutions in artificial intelligence. For example, evolution and evolutionary algorithms have more "offspring" when a great "solution" to the problem of surviving is found. Those offspring continue to exploit the discovered food source (build) and then have imperfect children to "broaden" the search for similar successful food sources.
Unconditional surrender and unconditional trust seem to be the way to unconditional love. Fear and doubt are roadblocks. My feeling is that happiness is the reward, but my experience is that pain and confusion are more likely.
"Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness." - Bertrand Russell
Parents Magazine and a goodly number of readers “Love Love 2.0”. Thirty seven of forty two [88%] Amazon readers ranked it 4 or 5 stars out of 5.
Framing Love 2.0 has groundbreaking theory. It gives us, “a radically new conception of love.”—The Atlantic. “At last we can discuss the science of love…. the relation between self-love and loving others.”Frans de Waal [Writer/Researcher on primates/bonobos’ behavior]..
It is also practical. “Using rigorous science, practical exercises, and heartful daily life examples, Barbara shows us how to strengthen our capacity to more truly connect to ourselves and others."[spiritual leader] Sharon Salzberg.
Dr. Fredrickson, who has twice consulted with the Dalai Lama, is part of a cascade of scientists and spiritual leaders connecting neuro-science and larger-than-me purpose. She teaches that “love is the most supreme among all emotions…” [monk Matthieu Ricard]. Love 2.0 advises us not to put all of our love eggs in one relational basket. It “…drives home the [health] values of being warmhearted…. Love 2.0 is a user-friendly manual for opening our hearts.”—Daniel Goleman [Emotional Intelligence].
What story does this book change? Personally, Love 2.0 confirms my gut feeling that the classical romantic Love story is harmful to actual human beings. Love 2.0 weighs in on the culture wars fought between the Master Narrative of Love and how our bodyminds actually work. Fredrickson asked, “What is love?” and found that there is no true-or-false Love. Like Dan Slater’s Love in the Time of Algorithms and some spiritual traditions, she found that love is as common as dust and easy to create. “So simple, so glorious [schlemiel#32*].”
My view is that this Master Narrative-- the narrative promoted by those who seek to be our Masters-- serves to keep us unhappy, unsatisfied, and buying many accessories to find True Love. Au contrair, readers of Love 2.0 learn that the easy form of love: “is contagious,” [ann-reads-it-all]… “changes your biochemistry,” [Deb- Palo Alto]...” literally makes people healthier,” [A.Logan] “… is an action.” [Sean Goh] Fredrickson’s writing teaches us to attend, and love well in humdrum, daily life. This “changes my life.” [Marcel Hochman]
Love 2.0 conveys that over-thinking, working hard, and spending money on dating services for romance/connection may not be needed. As MC Yogi sings in Just Love, “if you want love you need to give love away.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpVUih5nY9g ]
Love 2.0 has its perceived flaws, starting with its techie title. Fredrickson tries to use half of the book to teach readers mindfulness and Loving/Kindness Meditation; this may not be her strength. Juliet begs, “Get this woman an editor.” Love 2.0 mostly succeeds at popularizing Fredrickson’s lab’s work. Yet several readers found it to be a dry textbook, while Raj says it is “too repetitive and touchy feely.”
Some reviewers grasp Love 2.0, while also noting “I believe in love…described in the Bible, or as the Greeks defined it.” [Sam] This interesting juxtaposition of Love 2.0 and traditional views points out how each of our Stories of Love is so limbicly central to us and deep-rooted**. No one wants to change her/his own core way-of-being and way-of-doing, even when it might make us happier and more connected.
Love 2.0 suggest that we might be rewarded for painful changes. -------------------------------------------------------------- *names not otherwise identified are from public Amazon.com readers’ reviews of Love 2.0.
** See General Theory of Love for a wonderful explanation of the triune brain and how the limbic self trumps the neo-cortex every time.
http://positivityresonance.com/index.html is Barbara Fredrickson’s web site.
(thank you to Kim Friedman Landau for her guidance)
Loved the book and have great admiration for Barbara Fredrickson, but feel the title will put off a lot of people. This is a shame--I can understand why she wanted to call it that, but perhaps the subtitle would be better as the title. Putting the claim of "reinventing love" before the explanation is challenging and may even seem arrogant, but if you can get past the title and actually read the book, you will find that it is a new concept of love. It is one which is much more in tune with reality and explains how the romantic version of love limits us from experiencing and revelling in the micromoments of connectivity. William Feather said "Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it." If you replace the word "happiness" with "love" that helps you understand why this book is so important. It is interesting to compare with CS Lewis's The Four Loves.
This important and intriguing book inspired several of my professional coach friends and I to create an ad hoc book club just so we can discuss it. The book has also inspired me to conduct an experiment on myself using the book's concepts and exercises.
The most important ideas, based on scientific research, that I've gained from Love 2.0, are:
1. There is a critical relationship between "vagal tone" (which we can influence), and our health and experience of love.
2. Love literally makes people healthier.
3. Our brains broadcast everything we feel to every part of of us, creating health or illness and rendering us more or less equipped for love.
4. Loneliness = inflammation in the immune system.
5. Lack of love in your life is more damaging to your health than smoking, drinking too much alcohol or being obese.
6. We give health to others when we engage with them with "positivity resonance" so every interaction with others is an opportunity for both of us to thrive more.
The author provides many suggestions for exercises to increase your experience of "positivity resonance" (and thus health and well-being), some of which have been used in research her team has done. I can't wait to try these out myself and suggest them to my coaching clients, as well.