New Study Finds How Feeling Loved Is Connected To Mental Well-Being

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant
Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Image by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy

We’ve all heard at some point, that life is about the little things. But a new study by Penn State University recently discovered just how true that is.

New research just came out pointing to a promising source for feelings of well-being, and the good news is, everyone has access. The research looked at people’s day-to-day experiences in relation to their mental well-being, and discovered one very important factor: felt love.

What exactly is "felt love?"

The study describes "felt love" as having at least a brief instance of feeling connected to and/or loved by someone in your life on a daily basis.

"Everyday felt love is conceptually much broader than romantic love," says Zita Oravecz Ph.D., assistant professor at Penn State. "It’s those micro-moments in your life when you experience resonance with someone."

And it may be these moments of felt love that contribute to overall feelings of well-being.

“If you’re talking to a neighbor and they express concern for your well-being,” Oravecz continues, “then you might resonate with that and experience it as a feeling of love, and that might improve your well-being."

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What researchers found.

Through two studies, researchers observed the participants who reported more "felt love" had higher levels of mental well-being than those who reported less. Higher felt love was correlated with optimism and feeling fulfilled, while lower felt love was correlated with neuroticism.

And what’s more, the participants reported an increase in these "felt love" experiences throughout the study as they became more used to looking for them, which highlights an important point about perspective.

"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," says Oravecz. "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.”

A matter of perspective

As social creatures, we know how important it is to have meaningful connections in our lives, but this latest research shows how our own perspectives come into play.

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

While more research is needed before a direct relationship between felt love and well-being can be sure, these findings could result in a new approach to tackle mental health.

Energy flows where intention goes, so take note of the love in your life. Whether from a partner, a parent, or a stranger on the street, there might just be more to find than you think.

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