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.