Give your spouse a kiss, hug your kids, make a date with friends – research has found that feeling loved every day improves your wellbeing…

Did you give anyone a hug today?

Songwriters tend to focus on romance and passion, but those simple and brief feelings of love throughout the day – like a hug or a good chat with a friend – are enough to boost psychological well-being.

This is according to a study led by two Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS) researchers.

In two studies, the researchers found that people who experienced higher “felt love” – brief experiences of love and connection in everyday life – had significantly higher levels of psychological wellbeing, which includes feelings of purpose and optimism, compared to those who had lower felt love scores.

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It helps if you’re an extrovert

The research found that people with higher felt love tended to have higher extraversion personality scores, while people with lower felt love scores were more likely to show signs of neuroticism.

“We took a very broad approach when we looked at love,” says Zita Oravecz, assistant professor of human development and family studies and ICDS faculty co-hire.

“Everyday felt love is conceptually much broader than romantic love. It’s those micro-moments in your life when you experience resonance with someone. For example, if you’re talking to a neighbour and they express concern for your wellbeing, then you might resonate with that and experience it as a feeling of love, and that might improve your wellbeing.”

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Recognise moments of love and connection

According to the researchers, the baseline of the subjects’ felt love experiences, in general, rose throughout the study. This suggests that the nudges to recognise examples of love and connection during the study may also have gradually increased the subjects’ overall sense of being loved.

“It’s something that we’ve seen in the literature on mindfulness, when people are reminded to focus attention on positive things, their overall awareness of those positive things begins to rise,” says Oravecz.

“Similarly, just by paying attention to those everyday moments of felt love, we may also increase our awareness of the overall positive aspects of love in our daily lives. This effect replicates in both studies, implying that raising awareness of felt love in day-to-day life may itself be an intervention that raises levels of felt love over a longer period of time.”

Source: Penn State via

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