"They do not love that do not show their love."
As the month of love begins and Valentine's Day approaches, I've been giving a lot of thought to love. (It's hard to avoid thinking about it when stores' shelves are stocked with all things red and pink and heart-shaped!) It's complex, fascinating term that can many so many things to so many people. It brings people the greatest joy and the deepest pain. It's hard to describe but undeniable when you experience it. It's something that can bring the biggest smile to your face or create a puddle of tears in your pillow. Love is pretty amazing. And, for that reason, I'm going to be celebrating a month of love here at Positively Present. For the month of February, I'm going to be writing all about love -- and not just romantic love, either. I'm going to be writing, as I always do, about life, but this month I'm going to be incorporating a whole lot of love into those posts.
As I've been thinking a lot about love recently, I've given some thought to how we can show love. It sounds easy -- kindness, gratitude, flowers, cards, gifts, hugs, kisses, sex -- but is it really all that easy? When you love someone, how often do you really, truly show your love? It can be hard, especially when you've gotten past the deliriously magical first stage of your relationship, to show others just how much you love them. It's easy not only to take lovers for granted, but our friends and family too. How often to you tell your parents, your best friends, your siblings how much you love them? I know I don't say those words nearly often enough. And so I got to thinking about how I show love in my own way, without those actual words "I love you." Those words, mind you, are wonderful and hearing them from the mouth of someone you love can be the most amazing, comforting, and exhilarating feeling in the world. I don't discount those words. But I also know that sometimes those words aren't possible and, sadly, sometimes those words are not enough.
But there is more to love -- as so many of us know -- than words. There are somany ways to show love, but four came to mind that really impact me on a daily basis. I've thought of four ways that I've either spread love to others or that others have spread love to me that have actually made a big difference in my life. Okay, to be fair, these are mostly things people have given me, things that people have shared with me in order to show me how much they love me. These four things (and not only these four!) have stuck with me in my mind, reminding me always that love exists and that, even when I've been in a heartbroken place, that there are still reasons to believe in the magical, mystical thing that is love. So here are four somewhat unconventional ways you can express your love to others...
Laughter. You're probably reading this one and thinking, "Laughter? Really? What does that have to do with love?" Well, in my opinion, it has a ton to do with love. Just think about it. If you can't laugh with someone -- whether it be a friend, a family member, a spouse, or a significant other -- how can you really open up and be close to that person? Laughter is a very positive form of release; when you experience it, you feel good. When you hear other people laughing, you also feel good (unless, of course, it's at your expense, but we'll save that topic for another post...). Laughter generally makes us very happy, and it makes those around us happy too. When I think about laughing with the ones I love, I realize just how important it is in each and every relationship I have. I love being able to laugh and I love to share laughs with those around me. It's one of the great ways to spread love and to share in something positive with other people.
Opportunity. People that have truly loved me over the years have given me so many opportunities. It seems almost like a boring way of putting love, but, in reality, this is one of the greatest ways you can show your love. It's certainly one of the greatest ways people have shown love to me. An opportunity can transform someone; it can change his or her whole life. Opportunities can be big or small, but they're always a way to open up your heart and show others that you care. One such way to do this is giving someone the simple opportunity to get to know you. That might sound arrogant or petty, but a lot of people have trouble letting people in (I know I do!) so it can be a huge opportunity just to let someone love you. Other opportunities could be things like sacrificing your spending so your children can go to great schools (thanks, Mom and Dad!) or offering someone the chance to excel at something they're great at by giving him or her a job. There are so many ways to show love through opportunities and, though we may not always think of this in the traditional way we think of love, giving opportunities to others really is one of the most loving things you can do.
Validation. In many ways, we're all seeking this. We want to know that we matter, that our lives count. We want to be able to look around and see that who we are and what we're doing is important, if not to the world, at least to someone who loves us. Therefore, validating someone's actions -- and even his or her existence -- is one of the greatest ways to show love. It can be in the form of those three little words -- "I love you" -- or it can be in a tangible way, like providing an opportunity or sharing your loved one's abilities with others. Validation comes in many forms and not all of them are verbal (though it's always great to hear that you're doing a great job or that you really are loved by someone!). This can be a small thing or a grand one, but either way, when you validate the life or life's work of someone you love, you really are loving that person at a deeper level. You're saying, "You matter. You count. Your life is important." And who doesn't feel loved when they hear that? I know I do. Every time I hear I love you or every time I'm told that what I'm doing with my life (mainly, this blog) is important, I feel loved. That feeling will stay with me all day -- and sometimes for weeks and months. It's hard to replicate that wonderful, joyful feeling that comes over you when someone tells you your life is worthwhile.
Enlightenment. Yes, I know, this word can sound a like like "bullshit" under the right circumstances, but what I'm trying to get at here is this: You can share what you know about the world with those you love and that can be a tremendous act of love. This is especially true when it comes to the love between children and parents. We're all struggling, trying to make it through this life and figure everything out, and how great is it when we get just a little bit of information that helps to light up our path, to see the way a little bit more clearly? I know that every time I've learned something from my parents -- or from a friend or a colleague or a even complete stranger who has written a wonderful book that ultimately taught me something -- I feel loved. It's a different kind of love -- a learning kind of love -- but it is an amazing thing that somehow makes my life easier. And isn't making someone's life easier a great way to show love? It's something we try to do (or should try to do) on a daily basis for ones we love when it comes to little things like cooking dinner or doing laundry, but if you think about it on the scale of sharing knowledge, it can become a truly great act of love. We can make the lives of others easier (or, at the very least, more interesting!) by sharing what we know. Sure, our words may fall sometimes on deaf ears, but there will be those time when your words have the power to transform a life by changing the way someone else views the world.
Of course there are many, many ways you can give love. Some of them are very specific and wouldn't apply to anyone but you and those you love. Some of them are so general and wonderful that almost anyone who loves someone would want to share them -- a hug, a kiss, a kind word. The world, amidst all of the sorrow and heartache and pain, is filled with so many ways to love, some of them so astounding that we write about them and read about them and watch them in awe. It is amazing some of the grand gestures people will make in the name of love. It's a powerful (and sometimes scary!) thing, but when we feel it -- truly feel it -- it's best that we share that feeling with those we love. There are so many ways to show love, but all of them are important. All of them are essential, in fact, to making the world a better place. So, go on, show some love today!
What are some of your favorite ways to show love?
How to do plan to show love TODAY?