Let’s begin with defining love.
If we search ‘define: love’ on Google we get two answers:
- strong feeling of affection.
- a great interest and pleasure in something.
These are actually in the wrong order. In my experience, love the feeling (1) comes from love the action (2). We could rewrite the definition about love as just one statement:
‘A great interest or pleasure in something leads to a strong feeling of affection.’
Sure, I might feel desire for something which leads me to a curious or passionate interest in it.
The problem with associating love with just a feeling is that feelings are fleeting. We are happy then it’s gone. We are frustrated and it passes. We are delighted and then sad.
Experiencing a range of emotions is what makes life interesting.
So, if we only experience love as a feeling we are in trouble, because love the feeling will not always be there.
It supposes that love is out of our control. That love is something that happens to us.
On the other hand, love the action is always within our grasp. We can always commit loving actions no matter what our mood or position. Over time by being more loving we begin to feel love more regularly.
Next comes applying our love. Now we know that love is 100% in our control how do we apply it to our day to day lives?
Here’s a few ways that I try, at times poorly, to apply love to the different areas of my life.
Loving My Wife
My wife and I have been together for 8 years as I write this, since we were both 20 years old.
In that time we’ve both experienced a lot of change and our fair share of challenges (career changes, living together, living apart, moving, perspective switches). Through those challenging times it’s only been love the action that has kept us together. It’s an area we intentionally focus on.
Some loving actions I do with my wife:
- Small actions like cooking for her, buying her flowers, making her tea
- Telling her I love her and that she is loved
- Lots of cuddles
- Listening to her without judgement when she is struggling (I should really do this all the time)
- Help support us financially
Another person I try to spend a lot of time loving in my life is myself. This is a really important area for me as I really enjoy shoulding all over myself which tends to lead to paralysis.
I have a tendency to care a lot about what others think of me or to invent outside expectations of me. This leads to crippling anxiety and at times depression. However, I’ve found that by being loving and kind to myself I can move through my day with much more ease and enjoyment.
When I am loving to me, I am much more loving to everyone and everything around me.
Some loving actions I do for me:
- Putting myself and my basic needs first ie. boundaries
- Forgive myself when I don’t get everything done
- Eat healthy food and exercise
- Give myself permission to take a break when I need it
- Realise there is no prerequisite to being loved or being enough
Loving My Work
I began my work online with Bootcamp Ideas around the time that the ‘Follow Your Passion’ thing was huge.
My work never felt terribly sexy. I didn’t feel like I was changing the world or waking people up. I was just helping bootcamp trainers save some time each week and gain some inspiration.
I kept searching for something else that I would feel passionate about. Something I would love! (they work kinda similar, passion and love)
Until I finally realised that if I applied a loving attitude towards my work, it would become the thing I love to do. Not only that, my loving actions would create the kind of work that would impact the world in a meaningful way.
Some ways I practice love with my business are:
- Give priority to projects that excite me
- Try to be present with my community and readers and as helpful as possible
- Try not to compare what I’m doing to what others are doing
- Really allow myself to accept and celebrate thank you emails that come through rather than just focusing on the occasional ‘negative’ email
Loving My Family, Friends & Others
The cool thing about looking at love as an action is that it doesn’t need to be just reserved for people or things that you think you love already.
You can be loving towards everyone and everything just in the way you show up.
Here are some ways I try to be loving to those around me:
- Be a good listener. One phrase that sticks with me is listening to understand, not just listening to reply.
- Be myself. My real self.
- Go first. By being vulnerable or saying how I feel first I give permission to others to do the same.
How do you show love? How do you want to show love?
These are the two questions to ask yourself now and to keep asking yourself. As I wrote this I realised that I don’t show love to my wife in as many ways as I thought. I’d like to think of some more loving actions I can do.
Now I’m certainly no expert in love, I feel like I’m a beginner level 2. But I do feel like I can help those at beginner level 1 which might be you.
If this is new to you, my advice is to start small. Don’t think that you suddenly have to become a radically different person (like some crazy guy who hugs everyone he meets) to be more loving. Just start by adding one small thing that you’d like to do regulary for one person. That could be you, your partner, your child, your parent, your friend, your barista or even the crossing guard.
Bonus points if you start a loving action towards someone you have conflict with like that person at work, your ex, or your local parking inspector.
Something to remember: love, and the feeling of love, are completely in your control. The more you practice love the action, the more you will receive love the feeling.