One of the most basic universal human needs is to love and to be loved. Most of us know this to be true, but there’s a mound of evidence (and plenty of Ted Talks) that back it up, too. Our need to be loved takes many forms, such as the need for touch. Just look at all the studies that show a correlation between developmental delays in babies and a lack of physical contact. One study shows how a parent’s loving touch actually helps to form a child’s brain! And I’ve written before about the importance of love in attaining the good life, citing a fascinating long-term study that links love with happiness.
So, if love is such a fundamental part of our wiring, why is it that in our world today we are witness to, and at times participants in, so many acts of un-love?
I Want to Know What Love Is
Do you remember this classic 80s ballad by Foreigner? (Check out the lyrics.) I found myself humming it on repeat a few weeks ago, looking around for the answer…
It was the kind of day that comes too often lately. Lots of bad news. And as I listened to talk radio, read the papers, watched the television, read billboards, studied financial reports, and scanned my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I did not come across the word love in any form.
We hear the news of hate in the open, murder, bombings, victims of hunger, sickness, disease, oppression, poverty, social injustice and prejudice as commonly as we hear the weather forecast. How do we even begin to think about love in the midst of all of this? Is it impossible? It sure seems that way at times, doesn’t it?
If we focus on love, can we manifest more love in our lives and society? If we talk more about love, does it allow us to experience it to greater depths and give and receive love? I believe it will. That’s why I’d like to challenge you to talk about love more often. Let’s stop asking what love is, and start defining it.
Choose Love for a Day, and Maybe Every Day!
In most communities, we are engaged in acts of charity, mercy, and justice every day. We don’t often go as far as to say and acknowledge that they are acts of love, but they are. Did you show up to a fundraiser, volunteer at your child’s school, coach a sports team, attend a neighborhood event, or shake someone’s hand at church? Guess what? Those are acts of love intended to raise others up. Let’s call them what they are.
I’d like to challenge you to choose one day each week to be intentional about choosing love. (If that feels too ambitious right now, then start with one day per month.) On this day, we can all acknowledge our most basic need to love, be loved and to freely engage in acts of love. On this day, let’s choose to love ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies, and everyone in our path. It’s a personal choice to love yourself and others, and you can choose to do that every day. It is your choice and you ought to own it.
Here are some simple things you can do on this day:
- Bring love up in conversation; name it.
- Tell someone you love them when you say hello or goodbye.
- Thank someone for their act of love.
- Give someone unexpected a hug. Try hugging five people for an extra challenge. (To my friends in the workplace, make sure it’s an appropriate hug.)
- Sign your emails with the word Love. “Much love” has a nice ring to it.
- Tony Robbins tells us to start every day by saying we love ourselves. Start this today.
- Add your own ideas!
Do it without conditions, strings, and self-promotion. Let’s see if it catches on. Maybe one day we can make a national holiday out of it. Could you imagine what it would be like if all the media and our politicians chose to act on love for one day? What would that look like? Let’s start, and see if they follow. Love, for the sake of love.