Micro-Moments of Love

Day before Valentine’s Day.

Snow mounds taller than my body flank the streets in Boston’s Financial District.

I was in a rotten mood, my friend Marc Rubin says to me as we settle into a meeting room at 2 International Place.And then it changed.

Flight delays the night before. Marc finally reached his home in the Boston burbs at 1 in the morning. Grabbed an early-morning cab into town to make our meeting and avoid the traffic mess. I got into the elevator with a woman who had a dour expression on her face, Marc explains. We rode up in silence. She got off an a floor before me. As she walked out she turned around and said to me ‘Have a nice day.’ And I suddenly felt better.

It was more than the exchange of a social pleasantry. It was a micro-moment of love. The impact of four simple words transcended the time it took to utter them.

Barbara Frederickson, Ph.D, the Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, coins the term “micro-moments of love” in her exquisite book “Love 2.0.”A micro-moment of love, Fredrickson writes, like other positive emotions, literally changes your mind. It expands your awareness of your surroundings, even yourself. The boundaries between you and not-you – what lies beyond your skin – relax.

6 in the morning. I slide into the back seat of a taxi at Sixth Avenue and Carmine Street in Manhattan. Head uptown to prepare for a program I will facilitate. Like Marc, exhausted from weeks of too much travel and not-enough sleep.

53rd and 6th, please! I say to my cab driver.

It will be my pleasure to take you there, he responds.

I have never forgotten his words. They were like an electric jolt to my system. No New York City cab driver had ever responded in that manner. I was in an exultant mood all day.

A micro-moment of love.

On the phone with Shawnie, my speaking agent, as I pull up to a toll booth on Interstate 75, just outside of Naples, Florida. Roll down my car window to hand my $ 3.00 to the clerk in the booth. She is a woman of a certain age, wearing a pair of over-sized sun-glasses and radiating good cheer.

You look like an Italian movie star, I say to her. Don’t I wish, she giggles. Maybe you are, I reply. Maybe you’re here, doing research for your next great movie role. She laughs out loud with unabashed delight. I brim with pleasure at her joy. Boy, Shawnie says to me on the other end as I pull away from the booth. You just made her day!

Why not? A micro-moment at the tool booth. Micro-love is fleeting. The impact, however, transcends the brevity of the moment. Within micro-moments of love, Fredrickson explains, your own positivity, your own warmth and openness, evoke – and is simultaneously evoked by – the warmth and openness emanating from the other person.

Be a shameless micro-moment-lover.

Your positivity resonates within the other person way past your micro-moment. Better yet, biochemical changes instantly occur inside your body and charge you way past the moment, as well.

And who says love has to be complicated?