Love is more than a feeling or good intentions

Thanks to NLPer and life coach Erol Fox, who writes the Inherent Excellence blog, for inspiring this post. Erol writes some good stuff.

From a recent blog post:

People just don’t understand what love is, so they suffer. Most Westernized people think love is when you can’t live without someone or some object. Any doctor will tell you that actually sounds like a disease.

Atisha, a Buddhist monk in the 10th Century echoed what love really is:

“Love is the wish for others to be happy.”

Love is the wish for others to be happy? I disagree.

Merely wishing others to be happy, without taking tangible action to help them achieve happiness, is not love. It is mental masturbation. And delusional, if a person thinks that intending love makes up for their unloving actions.

I do agree with Erol that an addiction to someone is not love. But I have seen and heard far too many people who are convinced that they “love” someone because they feel loving, or intend good things for the other person, while actually treating that person badly, even abusively.

What you feel and intend matters to you. You are the only person who directly experiences those things.

Other people only experience your actions. They do not experience your feelings or intentions. They might imagine that you feel X and intend Y, but because they don’t experience your internal states directly,  they don’t actually know. What they think you feel or intend could be very different from what you actually feel or intend.

Wishing someone else to be happy has a direct affect on you, but it doesn’t affect other people at all. And that means the loving effect of your good intent alone is… zero.

When you want someone to be happy and you take action to help them achieve happiness, then you love them.

Luckily, you can take action whether or not you feel loving feelings, and whether or not you wish the other person happiness in that moment. That freedom gives you tremendous power to love, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. Loving action is a choice you can make, a habit you can build.

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Love is more than a feeling or good intentions — 1 Comment

  1. We could have a beautiful debate here joy and truly open some hearts.

    As an NLPer, let’s model this out. Also, I work to come from the NLP place of believing nothing but testing it. My thought is that internal state is the source of our experience and action.

    First test: If a person’s actions are harmful, in that very moment, are they wishing the other to be happy?

    Take an abusive spouse. She yells at her husband, calling him degrading names. In that moment of action, is her mental state also “wishing for him to be happy”? Or, is she just focused on herself and what she wants for herself to be happy. If she “loves” him, until Atisha’s definition, he actions would match her wish.

    Another test, a parent spanks their 5 yr. old child with one pop to they child hand as it reaches into a fire. Now the action, on it’s own, without intention can be called “abuse”. It is harming the skin of the child. But if they parent is holding a mental state of pure “love”, wishing for the childs ultimate happiness, a pop on their hand is so much better than letting the child get burned and having a drawn out logical discussion with the child about fire. (At 5, the child has little logical ability and these discussions can be abusive.)

    Sometimes one can act seemingly harmful, from a place of love, and truly free another. Like shouting at someone to break their state so they don’t harm themselves.

    So in practice, my experience is that Atisha is speaking of a perpetual mental state of love, of wishing others to be happy, so that all action flows from that well.

    Thus, can one be half a globe away and “love” their parent? Or must they be continually on the phone with them to “love” them?

    What a wonderful exploration you have caused here! Thanks you!

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