As it’s nearly Valentine’s Day the only topic we could possibly cover for today’s blog was ‘Love’. What is love? What does it feel like? What does it mean? How do we find it? So many questions! How come? We all know about love don’t we? One thing we can all agree on is that it’s complex. It really feels like a thousand emotions joined together but when you combine them in the right way it feels so good!

‘Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.’ Joan Crawford

Love is taking a risk, a leap into the unknown, taking a chance that there’ll be soft landing.

There’s a section on Love in Web to Success. Jo considers love to be the most important of our emotions, and I have to agree with her. As such it’s the first emotion covered in the emotional awareness chapter. The following quotes from Jo’s book sum it up perfectly...

‘I am, and always will be, in love with love. Love is fulfilling, exciting, and good for us. It leads to sharing of other emotions and life experiences.’

‘I couldn’t function without the love of my family and friends or without being able to love the other passions in my life, my cats, art and good books.’

‘We learn to love from building relationships with others, and that enriches our lives. In return, we gain increased emotional health. It helps us practice generosity, forgiveness, patience, and acceptance. When we have love in our lives, we are far more open to all the other positive emotions as well.’

.The benefits of love don’t have to come just from the love between people. Think outside the simple dictionary definition. I love art; it gives me pleasure to look at it, to try and understand the thought behind it, it makes me think, which increases my focus and energy levels. I love creating art both for my own pleasure and the enjoyment of others. I love my cats; they give me immeasurable pleasure, and they make me laugh which again makes me feel good. I love reading and enjoying the fruits of someone else’s creativity.’

‘Everyone would love to know the secret to finding love, but it can’t be found it has to be experienced and realised within ourselves. Before we can love another person we have to love ourselves.’

‘Love is a noun, but it’s also a verb. If we show and express love to the next generation, they will grow up with a natural ability to show love themselves.’

‘If we want love, we should first learn to give love.’

‘Never underestimate the power of this emotion to change the way we perceive things and to change our lives for the better. Go and put yourself in the path of love at every opportunity.’

I recently found an article entitled ‘Are you REALLY in love?’ By Esra Gurkan For Mailonline

In it people reveal the signs that prove a relationship is the real deal...

  • Is there a difference between being in love as opposed to liking somebody a lot?

  • Somebody ... asked users how they can tell between the two

  • A lot of people agreed that if you were asking then you aren't actually in love

They say that there is a very thin line between love and hate - but just how thin is the line between love and lust? A lot of people took to the forum to offer their advice - and while a few commenters insisted it's something you just 'know', others provided some practical signs that could tell...

‘It’s an internal drive to want to do everything I can to improve her life’

‘A willingness to put yourself second’

‘When you subconsciously forget the inconveniences you’re going to encounter just to do something nice for them.’

‘If you automatically put your partner first - without dwelling on how it inconveniences you - then it's a pretty safe bet you're in love.’

‘When you don't just miss them at night but find yourself randomly missing them throughout the day’

‘You’d feel comfortable with them no matter the situation, and you wouldn’t feel embarrassed to be seen in a bad state around them.’

‘It’s the deepest trust you can have in somebody.’

‘They’re the first person you want to tell of something good.’

‘You just have to ask yourself if you would be able to live without them? If things went bad...would you truly be able to move on in life?’

‘You just have to feel complete and connected.’

So what do we need to do to find True Love?

Here’s a précis of an article in it makes you think about love in a totally different way. It’s a hard hitting but honest appraisal of our search for love.

There is no subject which captivates people more than the topic of love. We can put a man on the moon, break the speed of sound, and map the human genome, but love remains a complete mystery. Science can’t explain it; maths can’t predict it and writers still struggle with adequate words to describe it. We are all looking for love. At any given moment, we may be far away from it but we never stop hoping the next chance is on the horizon. One of our frustrations with love is our complete inability to keep it. Like sand slipping between our fingers, the harder we grasp the faster it seems to fall through. It would be nice if love was as simple as baking a cake, a set of ingredients, a list of steps to take. But we all know the truth; love cannot be made, bought or traded. It cannot be forced or controlled. It cannot be plotted on a map or broken down into a checklist, but, it’s possible to find true love; even unconditional love!

Love requires us to reveal our true self to others. Author C. S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one.” What makes love so hard, and painful, is the vulnerability that accompanies it. To love at all is to be vulnerable. We use the word love to describe a lot of things. We love food. We love music. We love a good joke. Using love like this makes the word seem safer because we’re not exposed. A great cup of coffee can’t reject us. But when we choose to love another person, we inevitably make a choice to become vulnerable, leaving our defences down, and we get hurt. Opening our heart to another person, only to be rejected, is one of the most painful experiences in life. It hurts the most because in love we are most vulnerable. It’s worse than physical pain because it shakes us at the core of our identity, our hopes, and our dreams. We cannot help but feel empty.

Finding true love is hard. Like a great Shakespearian tragedy, we want desperately to find true love. We want to know that someone would sacrifice everything for us. That expression of love is a deep craving in our heart. It’s important for us to understand our own struggle with love and rejection. Finding true love is difficult. True love goes beyond the passion of romance and even finding a partner for the sake of being married. While romance and having our needs met are important, there must be more.

‘Being Loved whether you have hot abs or not!’

Our need for true love reveals our need to be loved unconditionally. We inevitably all feel the weight of trying to earn love. Companies sell us the idea that if we were a bit more attractive, a bit thinner, and a bit better dressed, then someone would finally take notice and we would be loved. Culture pressures us to set aside our reluctance, it promises us intimacy leads to love. The harder we try, the more desperate we become to find the magic potion. We believe that with Cupids arrow in our hand, we only need to hit the target and watch as love and intimacy give us confidence, fulfilment, and passion. But, that’s not real life. So, we end up settling for watching it play out in movies and dreaming about it in novels. Our own experience feels more like wading through sand dunes in the desert to find an oasis with water. Just when we think we’ve finally found true love, we find it was just a mirage. We want to feel like our life is worth something to someone. We want to be vulnerable and accepted. We want to be loved unconditionally. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. This is where we find the struggle of looking for true love. As one author puts it, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” Each of us wants to find a way to open up our hearts and lives and know that in that moment of honesty we will be accepted and not rejected. We all know the risks, so we tend toward pretending. Too nervous to share the truth, we try to change into whatever seems most desirable. But that’s empty. We know it but we just don’t know what else to do. What’s the alternative? If we open up we face the risk of being ridiculed and rejected. Honestly, true love has never really been about romance or passion at all. It’s about truth and value, vulnerability and acceptance. It’s about finding peace and a basis on which we can build our lives and on which we can pin our hopes. It’s about feeling like we are worth something and sharing vulnerability and feeling loved unconditionally.

True love is complicated by our self-interest. Let me tell you a secret that you probably know already but are not willing to admit. Unconditional love, the kind that pours meaning and significance into our lives, is hard to find because we are all too self-interested and too self-motivated. Our hearts lean toward protecting and promoting ourselves. We live in a culture that constantly measures every relationship by what we get out of it. We stay married only as long as it is benefiting us. We commit to a relationship only until something better comes along. The success of our relationships is measured by our need for love being met, instead of seeking to meet the need for true love in others.

Think on that!

Believe it or not this article appeared in the Financial Times!

How fiction ruined love - April 22, 2016 - by: Alain de Botton

To fall in love feels like such a personal and spontaneous process, it is strange, and a bit insulting, to suggest that we’re only copying what the novels and the movies tell us to do. However, the differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates. In certain eras, we’ll swoon at the sight of the beloved’s ankle; in others, we’ll coldly put romanticism aside for the sake of dynastic or practical concerns. We learn how to love by copying a range of more or less subtle cues emitted by our culture.

Crucially, over the centuries, the most important factor to have shaped how we love is art. It is through novels, poems, songs and, latterly, films that we have acquired our ideas about what aspects of our feelings we should value and where our emotional emphases should fall.

This is unfortunate. It’s not that the art has been bad; indeed a lot of it has reached the highest aesthetic pitch. It’s simply that representations of love in culture have frequently been profoundly misleading at the psychological level. That we are quite so bad at loving, and the statistics on relationship breakdowns suggest we really are, is a problem that can at least in part be laid at the door of culture. The primary impediment to having better relationships may be the quality of our art.

Our culture is full of skilful depictions of love. But at the same time, many of these tales are very unhelpful. We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations fostered by a misleading artistic medium. By its standards, our own relationships are almost all damaged and unsatisfactory. No wonder separation or divorce so often appear to be inevitable. They shouldn’t be. We merely need to tell ourselves more accurate stories about the progress of relationships, stories that normalise troubles and show us an intelligent, helpful path through them.

Read the full article here...

Quotes on Love...

‘Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.’ Max Erhmann ‘People will forget what you do, people will forget what you say, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Maya Angelou

‘Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.’ Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.’ Lao Tzu ‘If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.’ Richard Bach ‘Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.’ Lord Byron ‘Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.’ Dalai Lama

Funny quotes on Love...

‘Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood’ Oscar Wilde

‘I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.’ Unknown.

‘Love thy neighbour, and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier’ Mae West

‘Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.’ Jules Renard

‘A youth with his first cigar makes himself sick. A youth with his first girl makes everybody sick.’ Mary Wilson

‘Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.’ Albert Einstein.

‘Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.’ Franklin P. Jones.

So love is complicated, hard to find and keep and yet it’s something most, if not all, of us aspire to. We continue to look for it and find ways to foster it and that’s exactly as it should be. The benefits are worth much more than the effort involved to get there.

I’ll leave the final comment to Marilyn Manson...

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