Happiness is Love

This is the finding of a 70-year-old study which formed the basis of Berit Brogaard’s book ‘On Romantic Love’. The study examined how loving relationships affected the happiness and mental well-being of people from all walks of life.

Who is Berit Brogaard?

Berit "Brit" Brogaard is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. She is the author of several books, including On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Why does she say that Happiness is Love?

Her book On Romantic Love "offers a new theory of love as a partially unconscious, sometimes rational and always controllable emotion".

On love being an emotion, she writes:

I argue that love is an emotion, and that emotions just like beliefs, can be assessed for rationality: love in its developing, ripening, and fading stages is sometimes irrational. I further argue that love isn’t always something we consciously feel. Because love sometimes resides below our conscious awareness, we don’t always explicitly know whom we love. I also take issue with the common belief that love is an on-off affair: “Do you love me?” Does not always have a definite answer. This, I argue, is because love admits of digress. You can love one person more than another and you can love a person little or a lot or not at all. A final claim I defend is that because love is an emotion, and because emotions are subject to a kind of rational control, love too is something we can choose: we can take measures to fall out of love.

What can we learn from Happiness is Love?

A healthy, reciprocated love with another person appears to be the key predictor of happiness.

This is not just talking about romantic love – it means the love with friends, family, and partners. What seems to be even more important, according to this study, is that love is reciprocated. Love that is not returned, or loving someone who abuses your love, will not bring you happiness.

But stopping yourself from pursuing an unhealthy and unequal relationship requires emotional resilience. Emotional resilience can be difficult to develop. It is the ability to recognise unhelpful or even harmful thoughts and, quite forcefully, tell them "no". It is the ability to carry on through difficult times. Undoubtedly, having a loving and supportive network of people around you makes being emotionally resilient much easier.

Emotional resilience is a skill that can help you in all areas of your life, including at work. The workplace can be stressful, with deadlines, sales quotas and important meetings. Being able to tell yourself, "I can do this", is vital to handling tough situations, and having a supportive person say, "yes, you CAN do this", is priceless.

We ought to focus on the love in our support network - putting effort into those caring and equal relationships with friends, family, and partners. We also need to think about our emotional resilience. Can you get rid of those unhealthy relationships? Can you handle challenging situations?

At Altruist, there are lots of resources on offer to help you to build your emotional resilience. If you'd like to support your employees mental wellbeing, please take a look at our free online wellbeing course. We also offer Mental Health Awareness Training For Employees and Online Mental Health Awareness Training For Employees.


I am an undergraduate BSc Psychology student at the University of Birmingham. I am driven to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to encourage people to better identify and manage their mental health.

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