"Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself."
As you may have read in Part I of this post, I have been fortunate enough to have been given the gift of love, the gift of oneself, from one incredible, amazing guy (who, by the way, turned the big 3-0 the other day!). In the first part of this post, I wrote about how amazing it is that the simple act of love can teach us so much. Recently I have learned so much about myself (and about life) just from experiencing love.
It's become clear to me that there are so many ways we can grow and learn from the love in our lives. The lessons we can learn are countless, but I've chosen to focus two posts on some of the lessons I've learned personally and share with you how these lessons have impacted my life.
I've been so fortunate to share love with others and I can't say enough how grateful I am for the opportunities I've had to be in and share in love. Not everyone is as fortunate as I have been and I hope these two posts will make it clear that I am incredibly grateful to have love in my life. I'm thankful for it every day and I do what I can never to take it for granted. As you read these lessons, and my recent experiences with them, take some time to think about how love has impacted your life and give some thought to what your life would be like without the presence of love.
Because of Love, I Now Know...: Lessons 15-30
Love can sneak up on you like a summer storm.
You've heard it a million times I'm sure and you might be growing tired with the cliche, but it's often so true: love appears when you least expect it. That's exactly what happened to me about nine months ago. I wasn't looking for love at all, but, suddenly, out of nowhere, there was, like a summer thunderstorm. One minute the sky was dull and monotonous and, in a flash, it was alive with lightning and thunder, movement and excitement. It was unanticipated, but it was amazing, a shower of the most wonderful rain, leaving puddles that I've been joyfully splashing in ever since.
It really means something if you can do nothing and still have a great time.
So often in life we're looking for the rush, for the next event or activities to fill us with excitement. But, I've learned that, when it comes to love, you can find yourself doing absolutely nothing and realize that you're having the most amazing time. When you're spending time with someone you love, you don't need constant entertainment. You don't need to distract yourself or find ways to make something fun because, when you're near someone you love fiercely, things just become fun. There is no forcing it. There is no battle to make up things to do. Whatever you do, there you are, having a great time. That, I've learned, is a sure sign of love.
A person who can make you laugh so hard you cry is priceless.
There are so many amazing aspects of being in love, but having someone who makes you laugh so hard that you cry is one of the best features in my opinion. Something about laughing incredibly hard is so satisfying, such a great release and I've learned that there is nothing quite like having a person around that can make you laugh and laugh and laugh. A day without laughter, I've read, is a waste of a day and I couldn't agree with that more. I've been so fortunate to have found love and I'm even more fortunate to have found love with someone who can crack me up to the point that I find myself just thinking about what he said and laughing just as hard at the memory of it.
Love requires effort, but it should never seem too hard.
Like most who have been in love, I know that I love is hard work. It starts off easy and carefree until reality sets in and then there you find that there are just two people who are alike in some ways and different in others and who have to find ways to interact with and love one another in spite of their differences. Love is work. But, I've learned, the work you have to do for the one you love shouldn't be a complete drain on you, making you question or wonder if all of the stress and strain is worth it. No, the kind of work you do for love should come naturally and should be worth it. When I look back at the work I've put into my current relationship, I don't begrudge any of it for a second because I believe that any effort I've put in has been returned to me. Love will be hard, but it should never be too hard. I've discovered that, if you're hurt more than you're happy, you're not with the right one.
With true love also comes respect, trust, honesty, and forgiveness.
I've uncovered a universal truth about love: it can stand alone. There can be love without the other elements I've mentioned above. That love can be real and it can be meaningful, but it is not the kind of love you want to give your whole heart and soul to. True love, the real kind that both gets your blood pumping with excitement and has the ability to stand the test of time, comes not alone but hand-in-hand with respect, trust, honesty, and forgiveness. If you don't have those things in your relationship, then you don't have true love and you're missing out on some of the vital elements that make being in love worthwhile. Love alone can be wonderful, intoxicating, but it alone cannot stand the test of time. It's taken me quite awhile to learn this, but it's something I now know for sure.
Even on the worst days, the one you love can make you smile.
Over the past nine months, I've had some pretty tough days. I've had days when I felt like I couldn't get up and go to work because I was so unhappy, but you know what? Through it all, there was one person who could, no matter how low I felt, help me rise above whatever I was facing and encourage me to see the sun peaking its head through the clouds. There was one person who reinforced the idea of positivity and reminded me that I would get through even the toughest of times. And you know that? I did. I made it through some rough spots because he was beside me, making me smile and reminding me that, even when things were bad, there was always something good and amazing in my life: his love.
There's nothing like knowing that someone believes in you 100%.
One of the absolute greatest lessons love has taught me over the past few months is that there is nothing -- and I do mean nothing -- like having someone (who isn't a blood relative) believe in you with his whole heart and soul. I'm a pretty big believer in myself and it's always been amazing to have family and friends who believe in me, but, until recently, I had never before seen the kind of true, lasting belief in me that moved me from thinking I should believe in myself to knowing I should believe in myself. Nothing is more inspiring to be around someone who you have inspired, someone who loves you so much that they believe you could do -- and succeed in -- anything. That, my friends, is honest to goodness love, the kind of love most people only have the privilege of receiving from their mothers. That's the kind of love that will lift you up and make you a better you.
Love means focusing on others' strengths, not weaknesses.
The more you get to know someone, the easier it can be to pick on their weaknesses and forget about the strengths you loved so much in the first place. Just look around at couples you know. How many of them are bringing each other up, focusing on one another's strengths? How many of them are picking up on the negative qualities and focusing on those instead? One of the greatest things I've learned about true love is that is shrouded in positivity. When you truly love someone, you focus on what you love about them, not on what you don't. It's taken me awhile to realize that negativity is bad news, and it took me even longer to realize that there was no place for it when it came to love.
If it's really love, you will learn to let go of the past.
One of the reasons I started Positively Present was because I had a very difficult time letting go of the past. I always seemed to cling to it with an unnecessary (and unhealthy) grip and only recently have I learned that, when it's really, truly love, you will let the past go. As I talked about in Part I, you'll find that addressing your past is important, but it's never more important than the love you're experiencing in your life right now. Letting go of the past can be hard, painful even, but it's something you will do, fully and completely, when you find the one you are meant to love. Nothing, not even the past, can hold you back from experiencing true love fully and in the present moment.
You will get the love you think you deserve (aim high!).
You've heard this love-related cliche before too, I'm sure, but honest to god, it's true. If you expect to be treated badly and if you treat yourself badly, you will find someone who will treat you just the way you think you deserve to be treated. But, on the flip-side, if you believe that you should be treated with the utmost respect and decency and if you believe you deserve to be loved in a way that is pretty damn close to magical, believe me, that's the love you'll receive. Whether or not you want to buy into the whole Law of Attraction concept, I can tell you that I've learned that the love you expect to get is the love you will get. So, whether you're looking for love or you're already in a relationship, remember to aim high when it comes to the love you think you deserve.
Love is both freedom and safety, inspiration and comfort.
Though some might portray love in an either-or light, love is one of those amazing concepts that has the power to be so many different things at once. I've discovered that the right kind of love will make you feel both free and safe at the same time. It will let you loose to be the person you want to be, all by yourself, and it will hold you close so that you never feel as if you are all alone. This is one of the things I never really believed was possible when it came to love. Until now, I never knew that love could be so liberating and so comforting all at once and it's one of the most miraculous things about falling in, and being in, love with the right person.
Listen to yourself; if it feels different, if it feels right, it is.
So many times, I've been in love and had this feeling, deep in my gut, that something wasn't right. I can remember literally thinking to myself, "I have to get out of this situation." Feeling panicked and trapped is not what love is about. Love, as I mentioned in the previous point, is about setting yourself free and about feeling at home in the very same moment. If there is a voice in your head telling you something isn't right, listen to that voice. And, conversely, if there's a voice in your head telling ou that something is right, don't ignore that voice no matter how scared your little heart might be. Be open to the idea that you know yourself better than you think you do and, deep down, you will always know when love is real.
Love is gravity, bringing you home, bringing you to yourself.
I used to think that love was about someone else, about giving up a part of who you were so that you could then become part of a unit. I thought love was about going from "me" to "we." But now I know that isn't what love's about at all. In fact, real love is the opposite of that. Instead of taking a part of you, love gives a part of you back to yourself -- a part you didn't even know you were missing. With a great love, you become more like yourself; you become the very best version of you. You don't move further away from the "me," but, instead, move closer to what you somehow always knew you should be. Love should be just like gravity, bringing you closer so that you touch down on the reality of who you are.
The best person for you is the one who makes you the best you.
The world is filled with great people, some of which will be right for you at certain times in your life, but I've learned that one of the most important things to know about love is that the right person for you is the one who makes you better. Someone once told me to think not about what the other person is or does, but how that person makes me feel and act. When you look at who you become in someone else's presence, you learn a great deal about your relationship with that person. If, when you're around him or her, you become better, happier, more like yourself, then that's the person for you. If you want to know one of the greatest things I've learned about love, it's this: if someone loves you with his whole heart and soul, he will make you a better person simply by being himself.
True happiness is making someone you love happy.
Though I've recently learned so many valuable lessons because of love, one of my favorites (and one I think is of the utmost importance) is realizing that true happiness comes from making those you love happy. There are many ways to achieve happiness, but I've learned that one of the greatest types of happiness comes from taking the time to make someone else happy and that happiness is doubled if that someone else happens to be someone you love. Love can make you do crazy, wild, unthinkable things, but it also has the power to make you into one of the kindest, most generous people in the world. I am incredibly fortunate to have someone who loves me so much and who does what he can to make me happy. I'm not sure if he knows it or not, but his presence alone is enough to brighten my day and every single kind thing he does for me makes me happier and happier.
I know there's been a lot to read when it comes to these 30 lessons I've shared with you here, but I hope that what I've written goes to show you that true love is possible and that it does so much more than simply making you feel good. True love has the power to transform lives, to make people better versions of themselves, and, ultimately, to make the world a much happier place. If given the time, I could probably write 30,000 lessons I've learned from love -- it's that great of a teacher -- but, for now, I'll leave you with these 30 lessons and the knowledge that someone you know (or, at the very least, have read about on the internet) is experiencing, learning, and growing because of the love of one single person. You might think you are one person and that one person's love doesn't mean all that much, but I hope this post will help you to see that every bit of love, every drop of love you sprinkle down on the lives of others, has an impact. Love is mysterious, amazing, heartbreaking, and wonderful. It can mean so many things to so many people but, no matter who you are or what you think of love, I hope you can see that, at the very least, it is provides us with invaluable knowledge and it is this gift of lessons that we should always strive to share with one another.
There are so many things love can teach us.
What lessons have you learned from the love in your life?
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