by Megan McDonough
“’Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.”
“Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being.”
“To love is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
As difficult as it is to define and spell out happiness, love is even harder to define. Poets, positive psychology researchers, and philosophers have all attempted it, but, at the end of the day, love, like happiness, is best known from the inside out. We define love through awareness of our own direct experience.
The theme of this year’s Embodied Positive Psychology Summit is love, and, as always, that means going beyond a cognitive understanding, into the felt sense of the emotion. Perhaps embodying love is more natural than creating a definition, in any case. After all, we have evolved as one of the most relational creatures on earth. Connection and love are an innate part of our biology, as critical to living as oxygen.
The universal icon symbolizing happiness is a big, yellow smiley face. For love, the symbol is a bold, red heart. Everyone, from toddlers to teenagers to wise elders, knows these icons. Of course, as with all simple representations, both the heart and the smiley face have more depth than meets the eye. When it comes to happiness, our emotions show on our face—a wide smile that lets others know how we feel. Love, on the other hand, lies deep within us, in our hearts. Love is more central to our being, the balancing point between what we think in our heads and how we act with our hands.
It’s this intersection of heart, head, and hands that we’ll explore at the summit, as we look at ways to bring more heart into our workplace, home life, schools, and, most importantly, our relationships with ourselves.
Carol Dweck writes about the importance of a growth mind-set for learning and developing. In this summit, we’ll explore the importance of a growth “heart-set”—an attitude of openheartness and love toward self and others.
Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.
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