My mother used to use this phrase when I was growing up. The ending of the statement could be different, but when I would tell her about something difficult I was going through at school or with my friends, she would give me some pearl of advice that began with “When all else fails”. A few years ago, I began finishing this sentence in a very consistent way, primarily because there were very few circumstances in which it did not work to improve whatever situation I was experiencing. I began advising myself that when all else fails, it was time for me to love more.
When I feel more love, for myself, for others, and even for inanimate objects, it is a powerful force that draws more opportunities for me to GIVE love, to BE loved, and even to have THINGS that I love in my life. I cannot think of a single time in my life when I made a situation better by withholding love. Yet I can think of many, MANY truly miraculous events in my life that were brought about by my feelings of love. The saying has been used in many a sappy love song and poem, but love really DOES make the world go around!
One of the miraculous situations that comes to mind when I think of the Power of Love is one of a major life transition. I grew up in the state of Indiana. I had lived in Indiana for my entire life. I have many friends and family members in Indiana, but I have always known that I wanted to live somewhere besides Indiana. I visited Colorado once in my late 20s. And I LOVED it. I FELT really good in Colorado. I loved everything I saw…the mountains, the trees, the beautiful blue sky, the warm sun, the multitude of physical activities that were available in Colorado…I was hooked. I continued to visit Colorado periodically after that point, always feeling the loving feeling when I was there. And I always wondered if there might be an opportunity for me to live there. Then one year, I decided it was time for me to live there. I did very little other than to feel loving feelings about the state, to talk to people about my desire to move there, and really believe in my heart that I would live there one day. Only a few months went by when my boss called me to tell me that they were planning to open an office in Colorado, in the city where I most wanted to live. My daughter applied to and was accepted into a University in the same city. My partner, who also wanted to live in Colorado, was offered a job in the same city just two weeks after I was offered the opportunity to transfer. I knew without a doubt that there were other forces at work beyond me just deciding to make it happen. I could feel it in my soul. And it was the Power of Love! (I should also add here that I don’t believe that things always happen this easily, and I DO believe in the power of making an effort to make things happen. I rarely have things happen in my life without putting at least SOME effort into them. Lying on my couch and daydreaming, no matter how lovingly it is done, rarely gets anything done without at least a little effort on my part.)
So what can be done to put the Power of Love to work in our lives? What I have discovered over time is that it is really important that I make a conscious effort to give myself the time and space I need to FEEL love in my heart, and not just go through the motions of doing things that LOOK like loving things. When I grudgingly do kind things for others out of obligation or with a sense of reluctance, there is no room for transformation of the situation into something bigger. It is only when I commit my attention and my heartfelt feelings of love to a situation that truly amazing and miraculous things can and do happen.
So how can we love more in our daily lives in ways that really bring about a transformation? Here are a few ways that I have learned to incorporate more love into my life.
Remember to love and appreciate the little things. For a few years now, I have been an active participant in several online communities for people who appreciate arts, design, and photography. In these online communities there has been a significant movement toward capturing and appreciating the good things in your daily life, rather than only focusing on the “big” things such as a wonderful trip-of-a-lifetime. What I have noticed is that these communities tend to be full of people who are unfailingly kind, supportive, and positive in their interactions, even when they have the opportunity to be rude and hateful in relative anonymity. My feeling is that these people are taking the time to actively look for things in their surroundings that they love, and that this simple act of feeling more love for their daily lives is making them more loving people, and helping them to have a life that they love. I believe that taking the time to be attentive to and feel love for things such as the beautiful flowers in our neighbors’ yard attunes our hearts and brains to actually seeing/touching/hearing/smelling/tasting more things that we love.
Think about how our envy of others’ circumstances may be holding us back from our own good. One of my very good friends has some members of her family who have a habit of saying, “Must be nice” whenever she tells them of something good that has happened in her life. Perhaps she is excited because she was able to buy a new car, or she found a great deal on the perfect shoes, or she just booked her dream vacation…with me! 🙂 Whenever she tells the story of her happiness, she is hopeful that people will celebrate her joy with her. Yet hearing, “Must be nice!” doesn’t sound like much of a celebration. When you have a friend or family member to whom something really awesome happens, do you celebrate it with them, or do you focus on the fact that this awesome thing didn’t happen to you? Do you secretly think that your friend or family member didn’t deserve this awesome thing, or that you deserved it more than they did? If so, you are reinforcing several negative beliefs about yourself, about happy surprises, and about your friend or family member. You are certainly not feeling loving feelings for the same thing your family member is loving. How do you expect to get a new car for yourself if you don’t have feelings of love for the car? Even if the car belongs to someone else, celebrating THEM having the car is offering more love to the person, AND to their car. Being envious of them or being resentful that they have it and you don’t doesn’t allow your love OR your cars to multiply. By not being happy and loving toward your friend or family member, you’re telling yourself/God/The Universe/The Power of Love that if YOU had a new car, or great new shoes, or a fantastic vacation planned, you would feel resentful and bitter. If that’s how you would feel, why should God/The Universe/The Power of Love give it to you? Even if you were to never get the new car for yourself, doesn’t it just FEEL better to offer people in your life congratulations, joy, and love when something good happens to them? I think it does. Making a habit of truly feeling joyful for other peoples’ successes, if nothing else, helps you to hone in on what you really want for your own life. It helps you decided what’s most important for you to put your love towards.
Do things you love to do. I love to take pictures. I love to preserve the memories of my life using those pictures. I love to read. I love to hike and to sit in a beautiful green forest. I love to ski down a mountain and hear nothing but the sound of the wind in my ears. I love to travel and experience new things. I love to be with the people I love. Doing these things helps me to cultivate a good life, yes, but it also helps me to FEEL loving and to appreciate what I am able to do. Now and again it’s good to evaluate what you’re doing with your life. Are you really doing what you love? Or are you primarily doing what you feel obligated to do? If you’re primarily doing what you feel obligated to do, most of the feelings coming from your heart are going to be feelings of obligation, and not feelings of love. By making the conscious decision to do things that you love to do, you not only love yourself more, but you also give yourself the opportunity to feel more love while you’re engaging in the activity, and you give yourself the opportunity to meet other people who love the same things that you love. In all of these things, love multiplies.
Recognize and accept that sometimes there will be suffering. No one I have ever known has had a perfect life full of nothing but rainbows and unicorns. In fact, I do not believe that such an existence is possible in this world. I do, however, believe that some people do more with their suffering than others. The people who are able to accept their suffering as a step toward something bigger and better inevitably move through their suffering more quickly, and they learn to find something good and positive from it. They help others to heal from the same kind of suffering, or they learn skills that they didn’t have before, or they learn to grow in their relationships through the mutual experience of suffering. They learn to appreciate life more. They reach out to other people for help, which allows them to accept more love into their lives.
As we move into this weekend, my hope is that you find many opportunities to feel love. May the things you love be apparent to you. May you be surrounded by people who love you with a full heart, and may you give love from an equally full one.