Love is vital to the survival and thriving of the human species. Without love, babies stop growing and die. Kids deprived of love develop developmental disorders. The famous “house of horrors” case is a prime example (link). The police discovered that many of the abused had children’s bodies even though they were of adult age. Adults alienated from love develop severe mental illnesses and destructive behavior patterns. Some even go on to commit heinous crimes. In war-torn countries where the love of many has grown cold, life can be a living hell.
On the flip side, love is what motivates people to spend countless hours caring for their children, working to support loved ones, and fellowshipping with friends and family. It leads people to volunteer their free time, their knowledge, and their resources in the interest of the common good. I’m talking about those who donate blood and organs; serve the homeless at local food shelters; stop on the side of the road when they see someone in need; participate in events for cancer research like Pelotonia; develop open source technology like Wikipedia and OpenOffice; and leave everything behind to do missions work abroad. It’s the driving force behind the pledge “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, till death do us part. . .” Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Where love is present, every good thing in the world isn’t far off. Where love is absent, a Pandora’s Box of evil is ready to be unleashed.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
Oftentimes, we have this sense that love is what we need to move forward in life but we don’t know where to find it. Maybe there was a deficit in childhood. Maybe there was some lived trauma or hardship. Maybe, in simpler terms, our present relationships aren’t as strong as we’d like. Or the responsibilities of work and family life are taking a toll.
People tend to look out for themselves. They more often than not are unable to meet our human need for unconditional love, especially those who are not a part of our immediate family. But even those who are closest to us have limitations. Many parents struggle to adequately love their own kids, much less those of a stranger. Our expectations of what others can give us should be tempered by how limited we are in our ability to give them. Many times we hold others to standards that we ourselves are incapable of meeting.
Our expectations of what others can give us should be tempered by how limited we are in our ability to give them.
To bridge the gap, we must depend on a higher power or ourselves. If you are spiritual, then the former option is viable for you. When you strengthen your relationship with God, you gain greater access to reservoirs of unconditional love that you can use to fuel your existence.
Those who are not spiritual must reach within. As someone who is spiritual, I believe that God has given everybody the capacity to create love. Maybe you believe this too. And the means of creating that love is focus. There’s a saying that I love to repeat, “What you focus on grows, what you ignore dies.”
What you focus on grows, what you ignore dies.
To get a bigger return on the investment of love we have been allotted in life, we need to train our minds. Train our minds to focus on the love being manifested all around us in each moment. The love of the earth that supplies and sustains almost 8 billion people, let alone plants and animals. The love of our parents who more often than not did the best they could to raise us. The love of family and friends, and people everywhere with some measure of goodwill toward humanity.
One of the best ways to grow in love is to practice gratitude on a regular basis. To make a point of slowing down and appreciating all the blessings we have to be thankful for. Gratitude is research-based medicine, and it may just be the prescription you need to get better.
Meditation is another tool available to everyone. Mindfulness meditation and lovingkindness meditation are my personal favorites. Meditation gives us the chance to process the emotional baggage that blinds us to love and to develop a deeper connection with the world around us. And if you’re really hardcore, fasting has the same effect. It empties the soul of garbage and ushers the mind into higher levels of consciousness.
Today there are steps anyone reading this can take take to grow the seed of love inside them. And people tend to reciprocate what they receive. When we show love to others, they usually return the favor. This sets a virtuous cycle in motion with no logical end.
Here’s the song that inspired this post. Chime in down below.