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How to Love

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Love is expressed as an action and experienced as a feeling. Yet, love has an essence that resists defining in any single way--it encompasses compassion, tolerance, endurance, support, faith, determination and more. Love reaches beyond romance and embraces us in all walks of life as we encounter one another and make choices about respecting and caring for each other.

The question of how you should love is really only a question that you can answer, from deep within your own heart and from your own thoughts on the matter. However, this article will give you some food for thought, by recommending some ideas on love for pondering anew.


1. Acknowledge the breadth of love. Love isn't simply about romance--to define it so narrowly is to deprive yourself of the beauty and full extent of love. Love is a feeling, drive or emotion that we experience in association with people, pursuits and nature, and love can be found in many places, situations and relationships.

Love is shared between people--our parents and children, siblings, spouses and partners, dates, friends, neighbors, community members and humanity.

It's found in the passion for the things you do in your life, including work, hobbies, volunteering and the like; it can be found when you're at your most creative, or "in the flow".

-Love happens when you embrace the wonderful awesomeness of life, as you acknowledge how incredible this world really is, how intricate and complex life is.

-Love is found in observing nature, in spending time with our companion animals and in learning about other living beings in the world, beings who often show their own expression of love to those they care for.

-Love is at its most giving when it is altruistic, shown to a stranger we may never meet again.

-Love cannot be pigeonholed--it happens whenever your heart is open to receiving the beauty, wonder and awe of people, beings and happenings around you.

2. Learn to recognize what is love and what is something else. Some people confuse love with feelings of lust (e.g., purely sexual interest), ownership or control (e.g., co-dependency or manipulative motivators), worry (e.g., over-involved parenting or a spouse always checking up), neediness (e.g., insecurity or low self-esteem) and so forth. Yet, love is only possible when you don't need others to define who you are or need others to conform to your view of the world. Love isn't a tool for using people or binding them to your side; if you find yourself calling such actions "love", then it isn't love.

3. Begin by loving yourself. You can only truly love another being when you love yourself properly. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of your life projecting inner hurts, pain and other negative emotions onto other people, seeing the worst in them so as to avoid facing it inside yourself. Loving yourself is not about putting yourself before others--that's another form of confusion. Loving yourself is about having self-respect, discovering what really makes you tick and spending your life being true to your real talents. It's about not putting yourself down and not comparing yourself to others. Once you learn to love yourself, you will be free of any sense of feeling threatened by others' success (real or apparent) and you will be able to share freely of your love with them.

-To love truly is not only having a capacity to give love, but also to gracefully open your heart to receive love. Know that you deserve love. You are worthy of love The more you feel the love in your heart, the greater you are able to give more love to others.

4. Actively show love. Love doesn't just reveal itself through good vibes. It's an active emotion that needs constant input, stoking and tending. It blossoms with attention and shows through the things we do and say to other people each day. Ultimately, you are the one who must take action in order to discover love. Show your devotion to others by being considerate, respectful and thoughtful of their needs, by doing little acts of random kindness and by showing them that you care about their well-being.

-Tell people you love that you love them, as often as possible. Regularly say "I love you" to your child, your parents, your lover, your spouse, your friend, etc. And there are other ways to express love where "I love you" doesn't seem appropriate or lacks clarity on the breadth of your love for the person, such as "You mean a great deal to me", "You inspire me", "You are the most amazing person I've ever known", "I am a better person for having known you", and so forth.

-When you say the words "I Love You", say them with real conviction. You're not telling a person that you love them just because you want to feel good--you're saying it because you want the other person to feel good!

-Don't be ashamed to tell anyone that you love your friends as much as you love anyone else in your life.

5. Love unconditionally. Love is an action from which you should not expect returns. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations such as expecting to be loved in equal measure in return, then it is not love at all, but



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