‘Love’ – the verb
WHILE LOVE seems to be a universally valued attribute, defining it in behavioural terms can be a challenge.
Love isn’t an easy concept to understand, or is it? A Harvard researcher once wrote that love was a proven correlate to a happy existence. Love itself is the purest form of energy that connects any two human beings or even human to animal. It’s the embodiment of all that is good and per- fect. When we talk about love in the romantic sense, we are basically trying to embody something that is pure and perfect within two individuals who are neither perfect nor pure them- selves.
While many of us believe we would like to be in love, we face many hurdles in taking the actions that allow love to flow freely through- out our lives and relation- ships. We have many ways of defending ourselves against love and can strug- gle to give and receive love with ease, openness and vulnerability.
With love being so closely connected to meaning and fulfillment, it is worthwhile for each of us, especially in this Christmas season, to define love as an action or series of actions we can take to bring us closer to the people we value. The expression of love includes feelings for the other person or persons that go beyond any selfishness or self-inter- est on the part of the person offering love. As such, love should nurture and have a positive effect on each per- son’s self-esteem and sense of well-being. Love never involves deception, because misleading another person damages his or her sense of reality.
So, how well do we meet these standards for being loving? When we think about a relationship or friendship that is meaning- ful to us, we have to ask:
o Do we behave in ways that nurture each other?
o Do we take actions to make the other person feel good?
o Do we consider what lights that person up, separate from our own interests?
Too often, we think of love as an almost passive state of being, as opposed to a conscious choice we make.
When we regard love as something we simply fall into, we can easily slip into routines with the person we value or lose a sense of respect. Instead, we view that person as a part of us and usually the idea that familiarity breeds contempt comes to life. We then fall into roles, rather than appreciating each other as individuals and experienc- ing the exciting, loving feel- ings that result.
It is time for us to show love unconditionally. Love should never be an act of manipulation. It is not a mark of ownership over another person, but the exact opposite – a genuine appreciation of a person as a separate individual. When we see a person this way, we allow ourselves to fully value them for who they are and for the happiness they bring to our lives. We are driven to be generous toward the person, to show compassion and kindness in a way that both they and the outside world would view as loving.
Now we all have differ- ent love languages and it is important that we know the love language of the person we wish to show love to.
Here are a few tips from my own life that I think most persons will appreciate as gestures of love:
1. Listen. Talk less and lis- ten more. The greatest gift you can give someone is your full presence. We feel validated when we’re truly heard. Listen with your whole being. Pause. Breathe before you speak. An answer may not be need- ed….Believe it!!! we don’t always have to fix it. Sometimes we can just be. Just hear the entire thought, the entire feeling; even the pain that only your intu- ition notices. Don’t inter- rupt or blast in with projec- tions and opinions. If a response is called for, ask for divine guidance before you respond.
2. Gentle touch. A well intended hug and embrace can reassure someone that you care. Human connec- tivity is a great contributor to happiness.
3. Pick up the phone. Give someone a call or a text, just to say I am think- ing about you. I remem- bered you in my prayers today. Or just to wish them a wonderful day.
4. Make meals. Having a meal with someone can foster a time of bonding. You do not always need a lot of money, but just a sim- ple meal made with love. I remember the meals cooked by my mom; she would have placed thought and care into everything. Today, I do my best to put care into my cooking when- ever I do it. You don’t have to be the best cook on the Food Network, but rather let your food show effort and thoughtful love.
5. Compliments mean a lot. Especially from persons we deem significant in our lives. We can never ever get enough compliments. “You
look great!” “This food is awesome!” “You’re so clever!” Don’t be stingy, just let them roll out, but make sure you are sincere and honest in what you are say- ing.
6. Give each other space. Remember I said earlier that love isn’t about posses- sion, so we not try to imprison someone under the guise of love. Wings don’t spread when they’re caged. We all need space to thrive. Giving your loved ones space shows them that
you trust them, you appre- ciate and honour their jour- ney too. Work on giving others space not just when it’s convenient or when you feel strong and independ- ent. Space is a spiritual gift for self growth.
7. Little gifts. Shy away from the idea that a gift has to be exorbitant and over the top. A gift is something given from the heart with good intent. Little gifts can make a big impact. Get cre- ative.