D A R E
we believe that there’s more that connects us
than we are aware. . .
D A R E
and D A R E
Live Like It. . .
Because in the end. . .
THERE IS ONLY US
Who Cares - What Matters
It’s really east to spell:
L O V E
but do you really speak its
L A N G U A G E (S). . .
Gery Karantzas, Ph.D., is currently a professor and director of the Science of Adult Relationships (SoAR) Laboratory in the School of Psychology at Deakin University. He is also a couples therapist and was the former national convener of the Australian Psychological Society Psychology of Relationships Interest Group. He just recently pulled back the curtain, once again, on the Language(s) of Love
Love languages—the concept coined by Baptist pastor Gary Chapman some 30 years ago—has taken the relationships world by storm. It’s often the “go-to” topic on first dates, and, for those in relationships, love languages are said to provide deep, meaningful, and reliable insights into how relationships function. Putting love languages into action is believed to increase relationship happiness.
The concept clearly has appeal. At last count, 20 million copies have been sold worldwide of Chapman’s 1992 book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The book has been translated into 49 languages.
There is only one catch. There is little evidence to support the idea that love languages are “a thing,” or that love languages do much of anything to help improve relationships.
There is only one catch. There is little evidence to support the idea that love languages are “a thing,” or that love languages do much of anything to help improve relationships.
According to Chapman, there are five love languages. Each of these love languages is a way to communicate your love to your romantic partner.
In his role as a Baptist pastor, Chapman had been counselling couples for years. It was through his observations of couples that the idea of love languages was born.
He believed love languages were an intuitive and simple way to teach couples about how to tune into each other’s ways of expressing love. And so, he began running seminars for husbands and wives, and the popularity of his seminars grew.
The five love languages are:
Chapman suggests that people typically use all love languages, but that most people tend to rely on one love language most of the time. This is referred to as a person’s primary love language.
According to Chapman, people are more satisfied in their relationships when both partners match when it comes to their primary love language. However, people experience less satisfaction in their relationships when both partners do not share the same primary love language.
Another important aspect of the love languages concept is that relationships are likely to deliver the greatest satisfaction when a person can understand their partner’s love language, and act in ways that “speak to” their partner’s language. In essence, this idea is about tuning in to what a partner wants.
This is an idea that has existed across many models and theories about how relationships function well. That is, responding to a partner in a way that meets their needs and wants makes a person feel understood, validated, and cared for.
Despite the popularity of the theory of love languages, only a handful of studies have been conducted and reported over the past 30 years. Research is largely inconclusive, although the balance sways more toward refuting rather than endorsing the love languages concept.
Let’s start with how love languages are assessed. In popular culture, the Love Language QuizTM is an online questionnaire that people can complete to find out about their love languages. Despite millions of individuals having taken the quiz (according to 5lovelanguages.com), there are no published findings as to the reliability and validity of the measure.
Researchers have developed their own version of the love languages survey, but the findings did not meet the statistical thresholds to suggest the survey adequately captured the five love languages. Also, their findings did not support the idea that there are five love languages.
Furthermore, a qualitative study, in which researchers coded the written responses of undergraduate students to questions about how they express love, suggested there may be six love languages. However, the researchers reported difficulty agreeing on how some of the students’ responses neatly fitted into Chapman’s love languages, particularly in the categories of “words of affirmation” and “quality time.”
Next, let’s turn to research testing a core premise of the love language theory: that couples with matching love languages experience greater satisfaction than those who do not. Evidence for this premise is very mixed.
Three studies, including one that used Chapman’s Love Language Quiz, have found that couples with matching love languages were no more satisfied than couples who were mismatched.
However, a more recent study found that partners with matching love languages experienced greater relationship and sexual satisfaction than partners with mismatched love languages. This research also found that men who reported greater empathy and perspective taking had a love language that better matched the language of their partner.
Finally, what does the research say about whether having a better understanding of your partner’s love language is linked to higher relationship satisfaction? Only two studies have investigated this question. Both found that knowing your partner’s primary love language did predict relationship satisfaction in the present or into the future.
So, as you can see, not only is there very little research investigating love languages, but the research to date doesn’t strengthen belief in the powerful properties of love languages.
COULD IT BE
THAT THE GREATEST WAY TO SAY,
“I LOVE YOU”
is still the way you
and not the way you
s p e a k
i t. . . ?
This great David Pomeranz song first came out in the early 90’s and the video was stunning as it morphed from face to face to illustrate that IT IS IN EVERY ONE OF US and now this is a new version that tries to tell us what we know, what we know that we know, what we bet our lives that we know and yet. . .for the life of us, don’t act like we KNOW at all. . . or maybe even more importantly KNOW:
The Way of Love
To love without conditions,
when others withhold love.
To refrain from judgment,
when others are judging.
To speak kindly, when
others speak with hostility.
To be open and trusting,
when others are fearful.
To be generous and giving,
when others are selfish.
To share joy and gratitude,
when others are sharing anger.
To be as simple as a child,
at peace with the Universe.
This is the way of love.
IT’S IN EVERY ONE OF US
and it’s long past time
S H O W
See, that wasn’t so hard was it
B U T
Did you mean it. . .
Did they feel it. . .
DID THEY BELIEVE IT. . . ?
when you apologze?
It’s time to stop, researchers say
How did that go for you?
Is it worth showing up and maybe saying
maybe SHOWING it in another way. . .
I’m Sorry. . .
maybe it’s worth another try in another way just to make sure your
goes a little bit
C H A N G E M A K I N G
. . .isn’t always about launching and scaling new ventures and initiatives. Sometimes it’s about turning an everyday moment into a moment of positive change. These are opportunities that we can’t plan for, but that when they appear, give us a chance to step up, take action, and change someone’s life. Some call that microleadership. . .I merely call it CHANGEMAKING or better, LIFECHANGING and the best part about THAT is everyone of us is capable of making IT happen at any time with anyone. . .This video is a moving example of how we all can have impact, anywhere.
Watch this barber shave off his own hair in unity with a cancer patient shaving hers and see how these small acts can add up to huge impact and then go and DUPLICATE IT as often as you can, everywhere you can, with whoever you can. . .
Being a CHANGEMAKER is being A Caring Catalyst on steroids
K I C K
IT IS AMAZING
how we think that this applies to everyone ELSE
but not to ourselves
but one of the biggest lessons that
THE PANDEMIC has taught us
is if infected, we are dangerously viral
. . .CAN THE SAME BE SAID OF LOVE. . .
IF WE ARE INFESTED WITH LOVE
IS IT IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO SPREAD. . .
P L E A S E
N O T E
S P R E A D
L O V E
You have to first have LOVE
L O V I N G
O U R S E L V E S
I have often joked,
IF YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
I MAY WELL CHOOSE YOU NOT TO BE
(for the way, or the lack of the way you love yourself)
Seems like I may not be the only one who thinks that:
Could Help You
Be More Tolerant
Of Others. . .
ELIZABETH SVOBODA is a writer in San Jose, CA, and a regular contributor to Greater Good. She is the author of What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness. Her newest book, for kids, is The Life Heroic. She is helping us to take a look at the benefits of being a little bit more of self-compassionate.
Launched into public awareness by the psychologist Kristin Neff, the practice of self-compassion has emerged as a proven way to boost well-being and resilience amid life’s challenges. “With self-compassion,” Neff writes, “we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”
A new Rutgers University study suggests that self-compassion has another, counterintuitive benefit: It helps you to become more accepting of other people who are not like you. Being kind to yourself, the study reports, can broaden your tolerance of others—so long as your self-compassion is rooted in “common humanity,” a belief that life’s joys and struggles are part of the shared human condition.
“People who are viewing themselves and their failures and their suffering as normal parts of human experience are more likely to have compassion for others,” says H. Annie Vu, a psychology graduate student at Rutgers and lead author of the study. “That is linked with less prejudice.” She aims to develop training programs that foster people’s sense of common humanity, which she hopes will deepen their compassion for themselves and others—and, as a result, promote social acceptance.
Self-compassion, the quality Vu explored in her study, is distinct from self-esteem. Self-esteem involves how you answer the question “How much do I like myself?,” and it often crumbles when others criticize you. But self-compassion is a form of self-regard that persists no matter what others are saying. It means accepting yourself even when you fumble or fail.
As Neff defines it, self-compassion has three major components: mindfulness, awareness of your own feelings and thoughts; self-kindness, a commitment to caring for yourself in tough times; and common humanity, a sense that everyone experiences highs and lows in life just like you.
Vu’s study looked at how different components of self-compassion related to people’s attitudes toward others. The study’s 163 student participants took Neff’s 26-item survey to assess their self-compassion, including statements like, “When I’m down, I remind myself that there are lots of other people in the world feeling like I am.” The students also took a self-esteem survey and a test that evaluated their feelings about “outgroups” often marginalized by society, such as unhoused people or members of minority groups.
The analysis by Vu’s team found that people’s self-esteem did not meaningfully predict how they felt about outgroup members. Self-compassion, on the other hand, did—but it was people with greater feelings of common humanity, not self-kindness or mindfulness, who were more accepting of others not like them.
While self-kindness and mindfulness involve more of a focus on yourself and your emotions, common humanity “involves perception of others, and that connectedness between self and others,” Vu says. “That explains why it’s the only self-compassion component that is associated with low prejudice.”
Common humanity, in other words, helps you assess your own experiences against the failures and triumphs shared by everyone else on the planet. When you do that kind of comparison, it may be harder to look down on those different from you, because you’re focused on what unites you rather than what sets you apart. A sense of common humanity may also make your self-compassion more durable, because when you understand how your struggles reflect the shared human experience, it’s less tempting to blame yourself for them.
A healthier way to deal with stressful situations.
A 2018 study by Italian researchers had also found that self-compassionate people were more accepting of others, but Vu’s study goes further, showing that this connection holds up independent of people’s self-esteem. (Previous research has shown that people with high “me first” self-esteem are sometimes less accepting of people different from them.)
Vu’s finding also builds on reports from political scientist Kristen Renwick Monroe, who found that what set Holocaust rescuers apart from peers was their strong sense of common humanity. Even if (as was often the case) rescuers came from a different background or culture than the people they were helping, they recognized just how similar they were to those being persecuted, which motivated them to act.
Vu’s study is among the first to combine what have long been two distinct branches of research: studies on how people feel about themselves, and studies on how they perceive members of other groups. Through further study of how inner states affect outer attitudes, Vu and her Rutgers colleagues hope to create training programs that build up people’s sense of common humanity—and thereby broaden their acceptance of others.
Such programs could reinforce existing efforts to protect marginalized people’s rights and dignity, notes Rutgers psychologist Luis Rivera, Vu’s graduate advisor and a coauthor of the study.
“We’ve already seen historically how changing structures, laws, policies, et cetera, can lead to changes in prejudices. But what Annie’s work also suggests is that you can turn back to the individual,” Rivera says. “That could be another opportunity, complementing structural-level interventions with individual-level interventions.”
Developing and testing these educational programs could take years, Vu says. Yet people can start now to shift their focus toward what links them to all humanity—and observe the real-world benefits for themselves.
“The more you realize you are connected to other humans—and that other humans are humans—the more you’re able to regard them with dignity and respect,” says social worker and empathy educator Kristen Donnelly, founder of the Abbey Research firm. “The work of understanding your humanity is deeply connected to the work of understanding our connectedness. Difference is not a threat, but an opportunity.”
Hold on there, Sparky
before you pull the plug on all of the festivities
there just may be
Christine Carter, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center. She is the author of The New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction (BenBella, 2020), The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less (Ballantine Books, 2015), and Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents (Random House, 2010). A former director of the GGSC, she served for many years as author of its parenting blog, Raising Happiness. She may put some twinkle in your tinsel with some of these simple suggestions to keep you going as A Caring Catalyst during this Holiday Season.
The holidays can be stressful. Often, there’s a lot to do and a lot to buy and a lot of people to see. Sometimes we get so busy we have a hard time enjoying events that we’re otherwise looking forward to.
But we can make this holiday season less stressful for ourselves. Below are two tips to enjoy the holidays more.
Bet you weren’t expecting that one! But acceptance is a strangely effective strategy for feeling happier and more relaxed at any time of the year. When we accept a person or a situation we find challenging, we let go of the resistance that creates stress and tension. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that “what we resist, persists.”
Here’s how this works. When someone or something is being a pain in your rear, take a deep breath and accept the situation. Say to yourself something like, “I accept that Jane is upset right now; I allow this situation to be as it is.” Then notice how you are feeling, and accept how you are feeling, as well. You can say to yourself, “I accept that I am feeling angry at Jane and disappointed. I allow my feelings to be as they are right now.”
If accepting a disappointing situation or person seems too hard for you, here are the handy alternatives you’re left with:
Criticism, judgment, rumination, blaming, denial, and avoidance are almost like holiday rituals for some of us. But they are all tactics of resistance, and they won’t protect you. Ironically, these tactics will allow the disappointments or difficulties to further embed themselves into your psyche.
This is a long-winded way of pointing out that resistance doesn’t make us less stressed or more joyful in difficult situations. What does work is to simply accept that the circumstance is currently hard. We can accept a difficult situation, and still make an effort to improve things. This gentle acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a miserable holiday, or that nothing you do will make the situation better. Maybe it will get better—and maybe it won’t.
Accepting the reality of a difficult situation allows us to soften. This softening opens the door to our own compassion and wisdom; and we all know that over the holidays, we are going to need those things.
Some people (myself included) suffer from what I think of as an abundance paradox: Because we have so much, it becomes easy to take our good fortune for granted. As a result, we are more likely to feel disappointed when we don’t get what we want than to feel grateful when we do.
This tendency can be especially pronounced during the holidays, when we tend to have high hopes that everything will be perfect and wonderful and memorable. You might have a fantasy of a sweet, close relationship with an in-law, for instance, or grand ideas about the perfect Christmas Eve dinner.
This sort of hope, as my dear friend Susie Rinehart has reminded me, can be a slippery slope to unhappiness: Hoping a holiday event will be the best-ever can quickly become a feeling that we won’t be happy unless it is, leading to sadness and disappointment when reality doesn’t live up to our ideal.
Unfortunately, the reality of the holidays is unlikely to ever outdo our fantasies of how great everything could be. So the trick is to ditch our expectations and instead notice what is actually happening in the moment. And then find something about that moment to appreciate.
Can you appreciate that your spouse did a lot of planning (or dishes, or shopping) this week? Do you feel grateful that you have enough food for your holiday table? Are you thankful for your health (or if your health is not great, that you are still here)?
It’s enough to notice and appreciate the small things, but when I’m having trouble with this, I like to practice an extreme form of gratitude that involves contemplating how fleeting our lives may be. There’s nothing like facing death to make us appreciate our lives—and sure enough, research finds that when people visualize their own death in detail, their gratitude increases.
If you feel stuck on what isn’t going well rather than what is, set aside some time to reflect on the following questions. Take each question one at a time, and try journaling an answer to each before moving on to the next one.
It’s a little heavy, I know, but contemplating death does tend to put things in perspective.
As the holidays approach, we will likely feel stressed and exhausted, but we need not feel like victims to this time of year. We often have a great deal of choice about what we do and how we feel. We can choose to bring acceptance to difficult situations and emotions, and we can choose to turn our attention to the things that we appreciate.
This holiday season, may we all see abundance when it is all around us—not an abundance of stuff, necessarily, but rather an abundance of love and connection. Even during the difficult bits.
There’s still a whole lot of
to go along with your
Hopefully this will help keep your
b r i g h t
and bring you some
M E R R Y
M E R R Y
to share your cup of
C H E E R
THE CALENDAR MAY SAY
N O V E M B E R 2
but seriously. . .
IS HALLOWEEN EVER TRULY OVER
It could be argued
s u c c e s s f u l l y
that Halloween is the one day we celebrate
3 6 5
days a year. . .
Six Reasons Why Humans Wear Masks
JEREMY ADAM SMITH edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good. He is also the author or coeditor of five books, including The Daddy Shift, Are We Born Racist?, and (most recently) The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. You can follow him on Twitter! He did some digging around the Halloween bin and found out some things about our Mask-wearing ways
This Halloween, now a couple of days GONE, people in many places were wearing two kinds of masks: one to be scary, the other to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.
Yes, it was another pandemic Halloween—and while the masks we wear might seem weird, the really weird stuff is happening inside our heads. Masks have roots going back to at least Neolithic times, and they’re capable of pushing some deep evolutionary buttons, triggering fear, laughter, aggression, awe, and many more emotions. That’s a feature, not a bug, of masks.
Here’s a rundown of the reasons why human beings have crafted and worn masks for at least ten thousand years. These insights go a long way to explaining the way we celebrate Halloween, but they also suggest why masks have become such an emotional flashpoint in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 9,000-year-old mask found in the Hebron hills by a settler going for a walk.
Credit: Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, Israel Antiquities Authority
When did human beings start wearing masks?
It’s hard to say, because the archeological record is so inherently murky; masks made in prehistoric times of leather or plants could not survive the centuries. In 2018, an Israeli settler found what is believed to be the oldest known mask in the world in the West Bank. Estimated to be ten millennia old, the stone face was almost certainly used in religious ritual as humanity transitioned from hunting and gathering to growing our own food—probably as part of ancestor worship, according to archeologists.
Similarly, in the Egypt of the pharaohs, masks were used to connect the dead with the living, making them a kind of conduit between this world and the next. Mummies were fitted with masks in the likeness of the deceased so that the soul could locate the right body, when the time came. Priests wore the heads of animals who represented their gods: a jackal for Anubis, god of death; a cat for Bastet, goddess of fertility and sexuality; a bird for Thoth, god of knowledge and of writing, which was then a cutting-edge technology. Throughout African history, masks have played a role in religious ceremonies. The Yoruba, Igbo, and Edo cultures of West Africa all held masquerades to commune with ancestors.
The Native Americans who lived along the west coast of North America devised incredibly clever, two-layered mechanical masks in which an outer animal face moved to reveal a human image. In other words, the mask was a way to reveal the essential oneness of humanity and the natural world.
That human-animal connection led many ancient peoples to wear masks in hunting.
There is some evidence—mainly in petroglyphs—that early Stone Age hunters wore them in stalking prey. According to anthropologists, this was in part for camouflage; sometimes, the masks were made from the hide or fur of the prey to disguise the human scent.
However, masks that resembled the animal being hunted served psychological purposes, as well. They may have helped the hunter think like their prey. Hunters wore the masks in rituals performed before the hunt, and in dances and theatrical productions depicting their success. In some cultures, the masks were used to give the slain animal’s spirit a home, so that it would not return from the dead seeking revenge.
It’s a tradition that continues to this day, when hunting face masks help to keep the hunter warm and provide camouflage. While today’s hunting manuals may frame the mask as a practical necessity, it’s hard to avoid associations with atavistic practices.
Masks are ubiquitous in both ancient and modern warfare. As in hunting, they can serve two purposes, protective and psychological.
Helmets and masks might seem to have an obvious mission in warfare: to protect the human brain inside of them from enemies who aim to stop the brain from functioning. But the archeological and historical evidence suggests that the more important purpose was to scare the enemy.
War paint is a kind of mask, though it does little to protect the warrior. War masks existed in ancient Greece, Rome, and China, but they were often mounted on shields or armor instead of over faces. Japanese samuraiwore grimacing menpō—half masks covering the face below the eyes.
Today, the gas mask is the one we associate most closely with modern warfare. This image emerged with the use of chemical weapons during the first world war. Though its purpose is protective, the image still strikes fear into our hearts—and the gas mask is widely used as a symbol of apocalyptic warfare.
After that war, artists created “broken face” masks depicting war-ruined visages for books and films to help reveal its cost. Today, video games like “Call of Duty” feature a “ghost mask”—a skull over the face—but you can now buy a real one for cosplaying, paintball, or airsoft combat simulations.
In modern sports, fencers, baseball catchers, and skiers all wear masks intended to be protective. But the masks can still tap into feelings of fear by merely obscuring the face of an opponent, making them seem inhuman—which is why some hockey goalie masks are designed to look creepy, calling to mind characters from horror and superhero movies.
Onnamen are wooden masks of female faces, worn by men, which have been used since the 15th century in Japanese Noh theater.
Credit: Japanese Clothing
As we’ve seen so far, masks are fundamentally performative even in the most deadly real-life situations. It therefore makes intuitive sense that masks would migrate from religious ceremonies and warfare onto stages and ballrooms.
The theatrical mask emerged in the Greek city states, according to most evidence. At first, simple masks of goatskin or linen enabled priests to speak with the voice of a god in the temple, but when playwright-poets like Thespis started depicting such scenes on the stage, they became a literary device. As time went on, the masks of Greek theater became increasingly artistic and elaborate, often with built-in megaphones so that the audience could hear the actors.
Later in human history, masks appeared in Medieval “mystery plays” and the Renaissance-era commedia dell’arte, which applied Roman imagery to satirize contemporary manners. Lacquered, gilded masks are inherent to Noh drama in Japan, and they grew to encompass five distinct types: old persons, goddesses, gods, devils, and goblins. Within those types, masks are color-coded to characterize qualities like corruption and righteousness—foreshadowing modern efforts to scientifically map emotions on the human face.
Credit: Sean Fleming at Getty Imgaes
Inevitably, masks stepped back off the stage into the balls of Venice and Vienna, religious bacchanals like Mardi Gras—and celebrations like Halloween. Celtic pagans came to believe that ghosts came out as winter arrived, and they started wearing masks outside to avoid being recognized by dead relatives and enemies. The Roman Catholic Church co-opted these autumnal pagan beliefs into All Hallows or All Saints’ Day, which was intended to honor all the saints.
Today, secular Halloween is a big business and an annual part of many cultures. You can buy a costume off the rack or you can make your own—and on Halloween night, you can encounter anything on the street from a ghost in a simple white sheet to characters from the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
It’s all good fun, but behind the monster-masks deeper, darker traditions lurk. On Halloween, if you know what to look for, you can see masks that echo earlier times in human history, when we saw them as ways to survive violence and starvation, and to commune with gods, spirits, and animals.
The masks of the Iroquois False Face Society were used in healing rituals.
Credit: Werner Forman / Getty Images
Masks have always been used to fight disease, though the reasoning has evolved quite a bit over the centuries.
In some cultures, for example, members would wear masks to drive disease out of their village. Members of the False Face Society of the Iroquois people wore grotesque masks made of horsehair and metal to drive away the demons of disease; there are similar traditions throughout Asia.
When the bubonic plague swept Europe in the Middle Ages, doctors supposedly wore beak-like masks filled with herbs and liquids intended (in some vague way) to protect them against “spoiled air” from the East that many thought caused the epidemic. In the 19th century, this instinct to cover the face against disease got some scientific validation through the work of scientists like Joseph Lister, Louis Pasteur, and (later) Carl Friedrich Flügge.
However, surgical masks were not widely used until the early 20th century, and they were not standard until the 1940s. During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–19—which killed an estimated 50 million people—masks became a point of conflict in western American cities. The “Anti-Mask League” formed in San Francisco, with members claiming that mask mandates infringed on their personal freedom.
“Some people argue against them because they say that they create fear in the public, and that we want to keep people calm,” notes historian Nancy Bristow, author of American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Many of the same arguments emerged one hundred years later, when COVID-19 reached the United States—but the difference between then and now is that today, we have robust scientific consensus that widespread, correct use of masks prevents the spread of disease.
Unfortunately, all the evidence in the world can’t necessarily overcome the emotional distrust and anxiety masks induce in some people. Given what we kno