It’s easy to say “I love you” to another—easier, typically, than behaving or being truly loving to another.
But the only way to truly prove those words—“I love you”—to prove our love for another—is by examining our behavior—by looking at our actions and being honest about them, seeing them for what they are, which would likely mean labeling and or categorizing them—these behaviors today were loving in the sense that I was giving, appreciative, kind, attentive, I extended myself, et cetera; and these behaviors today were unloving in the sense that I was quick-tempered, angry for no good reason, hostile, mean, cold, indifferent, resentful, petty, stingy, unforgiving in the face of real contrition, I lost perspective, I didn’t feel good and so I acted out on that bad feeling, et cetera.
Behavior, behavior, behavior . . . it’s not about what we say or what we claim to do, it’s about what we do.
How many of our daily actions towards another are motivated by “love”—and not just love the feeling?
How many of actions towards another each day (or yesterday, or today) have been kind, nice, generous, appreciative, warm, tender, understanding, giving?
With how many of our actions have we been making ourselves a better person? A better partner? With how many of our actions have we been dealing with our own shite—our own fears, insecurities, anxieties, past wounds, et cetera—and trying to grow up and become healthier and wiser?
With how many of our actions have we been trying to become a more loving human being?—and trying to learn more and more what this might mean? How much time have we spent reading about what mature and healthy Love is, or thinking deeply about this topic, or writing about it? Or practicing it?
How much of our time has been spent trying to open our heart or allowing it to open?
How much of our time has been spent being more honest, open, intimate, transparent, courageous with our partner and investing ourselves ever more deeply and meaningfully and tangibly in our relationships? How much of our time and energy has been spent developing and deepening trust and transparency and intimacy?
How often have we noticed when we’ve slipped up? And how often after we’ve noticed we’ve slipped up have we said we’re sorry and made amends?
All of these sorts of behaviors and actions would fall under the “being genuinely Loving” category.
Conversely, if we look at our actions, how much of our time have we spent being moody, cranky, distant, angry, stingy, close-hearted, dishonest, deceitful, or withholding truth or affection or warmth?
How much of our time have we spent zoning out or anesthetizing ourselves or being lazy and not contributing? How much of our time have we spent being mindless and asleep psychologically and not being self-aware and mindful?
How much of our time have we spent navel-gazing for no greater purpose than just admiring our own belly-button?
How much of our time have we spent taking and reaping and not sowing and not being grateful or appreciative and not saying thank you?
In other words, how much of our time each day, or yesterday, or even today thus far, has been spent being unloving?—being self-centered, petty, asleep, exploitative, manipulative, far less than our best?
How much of our day today have we thus far spent as if it were our last? How much of it have we lived with that clarity, focus, deliberateness, respect, passion, Love?
And how much of today have we lived as if life will just go on forever? (Btw, it won’t.)
How much of today have we spent being our best, being grateful, being warm and appreciative, overcoming what’s worst and weakest in ourselves, deepening our own understanding of ourself and others and what’s really important in this life and then living in accordance with this?
How much of today have we spent thus far in hiding, not being open and intimate, not being warm and thankful, holding on to what’s worst in us, procrastinating and waiting for another day and for a better and more favorable (read easier) time and place to deal with what’s worst and weakest and not right in ourselves?
How much of today have we spent not doing the good that we could do and instead doing the wrong or the not good that we should not do?
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”
“I don’t want to be saved, I want to be spent.” – Fritz Perls
“Work is Love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran, in “The Prophet”
“Happiness is not having what you want. It’s wanting what you have.”
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – Art Linkletter
“The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone.” – Thoreau, from “Walden”
Love and gratitude are very much interconnected; it’s not possible to have one without the other. People who are ungrateful are also unloving and unable to love; people who are grateful and appreciative have always turned out, in my experience, to have also been very kind and decent and genuinely Loving people.
Life is short. Choose your side. Do you want to be a more Loving, and hence, more appreciative and grateful and kind and warm and giving and understanding and growth-oriented and healthy-minded person?
Or do you want to live as if life keeps going on forever, that the cancer diagnosis or heart attack or plane crash or catastrophic loss and death of those near and dear to you will never happen to you or them? Do you want to continue living asleep or as if already dead inside, living ungratefully, exploitatively, with a closed-heart, with your armor on and defenses up, always looking out for number one, never really investing yourself, never really dealing with yourself and facing yourself honestly and courageously and becoming a more noble and truly Loving and emotionally mature and healthier and honest person?
“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.
“Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” – George Bernard Shaw