Maybe you're looking for love, maybe you're unsure if you'll ever find it, maybe you're in a relationship and wondering where all the love went.
Regardless, I'm here to tell you that this lack of love is not your fault.
The culture we've grown up in has taught us all sorts of myths about love. These falsehoods prevent us from becoming the open-hearted loving individuals we were born to be.
One of these myths is the soulmate model of love, which says that romantic love between you and another individual is the most supreme form of love. It's up to you to search the world over and find this one person.
On top of that is another myth that the chemistry of meeting your "true love" will erupt into a volcano of love for now and forever.
It's time to turn these myths on their head and look at love through a more productive lens. This means shifting our perspective on love in three essential ways:
1. Instead of searching for that one special loving relationship, bring as much love as you can into all your relationships.
Psychologist and philosopher Eric Fromm once wrote, "without love humanity would not exist even for a day." That's because we all have a myriad of dynamic relationships that support our emotional well-being, from the friend we call for help to the pharmacist that takes the extra time to answer our questions.
You may have many soulmates in a lifetime and those relationships may not last forever. Your friendships may last longer than your marriage. The most important relationships in your life may not be with the people you have sex with. And that is OK. Love is not a zero sum game, love expands to fill the space available. The trick is making the space available.
"Love is not a zero sum game, love expands to fill the space available. The trick is making the space available."
Everyone on this planet -- including yourself -- is deserving of love. And everyone on this planet is deserving of your love. Once we let go of this idea of the one, we open ourselves up to seeing and loving everyone.
2. Instead of seeing love as a force that is out of your control, see it as an art and a practice.
We are all artists of love, but too many people refuse to pick up a paintbrush because they're waiting to find the right picture to paint. We can only realize the tremendous potential we all have to love if we actually do something about it.
Marianne Williamson writes that we experience love as kindness, giving, forgiveness, compassion, peace, joy, acceptance, non-judgement and intimacy. Seeing love as an art and a practice means that we consciously choose to bring these qualities into our lives every day and indeed every moment.
The next time someone wrongs you, see what is between you and forgiveness. What can you do to see this person in a more positive light?
"I don't just want someone who says they love me; I want someone who practices that love for me every day." -- Brene Brown
Love can show up in a million different ways in a million different forms, which means we have a million choices everyday to bring love into our lives, or not.
My advice: choose love.
3. Try falling in love not just with people, but also with places, things and activities.
I remember practicing a walking meditation during a mindfulness retreat. The instructor told us to, "act as if each and every footstep was kissing the earth."
This made me think, "what if I attempted to take delight in everything I did?"
What if the next time you washed the dishes, you fell into LOVE while washing the dishes? What if the warm water soothed your stress, the bubbles excited your imagination, and the satisfaction of clean dishes left you feeling warm inside?
"When looking for love, look for love everywhere."
When looking for love, look for love everywhere.
Fall in love with the cashier bagging your groceries, how they delicately handle your food. Fall in love with the bus driver transporting you safely home.
"You have a surplus of lovable people and objects in your life -- always -- if you but look around." -- Frank Andrews
Fall in love with the streetlamp that keeps your home secure at night. Fall in love with the way the morning sunlight cascades through the trees. Fall in love with your passions.
Your existence is such an unbelievably fantastic event in this miracle of life that the best and only real option is to become the most tender-hearted, loving and kind individual you can possibly be.
Then, you will always survive.
With radical love,