Fall in Love (on purpose)

I am a fairly serious person. You show me a kitten, I think “euthanasia.” (Actually, I think “cute!” first, then “euthanasia,” which is why I’m also a fairly sad person.) You tell me your million dollar money-making idea, and I tell you why you won’t make a hundred dollars. I have one of those neutral faces that people tend to think is angry unless I am purposefully reminding myself to smile. (Interestingly enough, when I’m genuinely angry, I’m told I become incredibly beautiful–although that could be a placation!) In short, if I don’t augment my personality when dealing with other people, I can come off as brusque, curt, and pessimistic if not outright loutish. I have plenty of good qualities, of course, like generosity, empathy, creativity, and thoughtfulness. But these traits don’t stand out as much or leave as lasting an impression as my negative ones.

I noticed that it all changes when I’m in love. When I’ve freshly fallen in love, like when I met my husband Joe, I have a much lighter outlook on life. I smile more without thinking about it, bounce when I walk, and treat people like I’m in love with them, too. And people change how they treat me because of this. I notice others smiling back at me more, being more courteous and engaged, and more open to my ideas. Wouldn’t it be great if I could have this magical glow on me during more of my human interactions? Wouldn’t life flow more smoothly?

Actually, it’s not hard to do. Even if you have no one to love or if you’re already in love but have moved beyond that dippy “falling in love” state (as I have), you can ignite those blissful feelings of infatuation with a little effort.

Find someone to love who can love you back.

Consider helping out with kids. Kids are easy to love and be loved by. Hanging out with a bright kid for an afternoon can lift your spirits as much as a good date. You can volunteer for a children’s reading program at your local library, or offer to take a friend’s child out for ice cream and give them a little break.

Pets can also boost your spirits, and that initial infatuation you get from a new puppy is intoxicating! But beware, all infatuations fade with time. Eventually, Spot and Fluffy won’t give you that Love Rush reliably, and you’ll have to find your fix elsewhere. So I advise against getting a new pet. It’s wrong to use an animal like that.

I also advise against romantic relationships for the sake of falling in love. The odds aren’t in your favor and you’ll be rolling around in misery eventually, which will undo all that glow you’ve worked for.

Fall in love with a new hobby.

So animate beings aren’t your most reliable bet. However, obsessing over something is fantastic. It puts a sloppy grin on your face. It makes you look forward to the weekend. It helps you find interesting new things to talk about. If you find something you love, like drawing or origami or learning Japanese or growing orchids, give yourself to it entirely. Let yourself get carried away. Become a passionate advocate. It’ll build your personality and give you a boost.

Keep it fresh.

It is rare to find a married couple as infatuated with each other as when they first met. It happens, but it’s rare. That’s because infatuation fades in most relationships. You may be excited and on top of the world about soccer for two months before it becomes an obligation or a chore. When the rush fades, it’s okay to let go and back off. It’s good to start looking into new stimulation around this period.

Don’t feel like you have to stick with what you’ve started. And don’t feel like you have to constantly have your nose in something awesome to keep feeling gushy. It is not normal for a human to sustain these “just married” feelings for an indefinite period. You will have highs and lows. But the point is to make sure you have more highs than you would have had otherwise. It makes you a more cheerful, fun person to be with, and your situation in life will improve around that. You might even find that your personality undergoes a permanent shift for the better!

Find a way to smile honestly

I’m not sure why I’m blogging this. It just seemed like a useful idea. When I got my new job, I felt like I’d dumped one boyfriend and fallen in love with another. I rode that boost for as long as I could. More than makeup or good clothes or speech patterns, your personality, your confidence, are what attract people to you. Have you ever noticed that after you just fell in love with a guy, suddenly everyone is asking you out? It’s down to the positive change in your attitude (and pheromones, probably).

So before you invest in all the trappings of success, invest in your heart. Find a way to feel joy and to smile honestly in the mirror.

  • Steven D.

    Rachel, the one thing i’m always bragging is that i’m a good “identifier” of Extraordinary People. i thought that about you immediately when i first came across your work many years ago. and–of course–i was right! i’m very pleased to have met you in person and very proud to consider you a friend. Every good wish from Brooklyn. sd