Since February is the month we talk most about love, I’d like to share a column that I wrote previously, and think you may enjoy it this week.
I bought a cute card for my goddaughter. Her birthday falls on Valentine’s Day and the card jokingly said, “People born on Valentine’s Day are easier to love.” It occurred to me, “Some people really are easier to love, aren’t they?” Why is that? I think it is because some people are better at loving others. Because they express love in healthy ways on a consistent basis, they also attract love into their lives. It is a simple principle most of us have been taught repeatedly: What you sow, you will also reap.
This week, I would like to serve as your loving reminder of what it means to love someone. These are seven straightforward, at times difficult, but always effective strategies for loving others – and experiencing more love in your life. Saint Paul wrote them in the 13th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. We often hear the scripture recited at weddings. This week, meditate on these seven principles. Find news ways to express love on a daily basis and strengthen your daily interaction with others — whether loved ones or strangers, co-workers or neighbors. The greatest use of your life is to love. When you apply this kind of love to a situation, it never fails:
- LOVE IS PATIENT.
People won’t always do what you want when you want them to. Practice being patient – whether with your children, your significant other or the grocery cashier who takes too long to ring up your order. Everything happens for a reason – and that includes the timing of when things happen. Be patient and learn the lesson that comes in the process of enduring the wait. Sometimes the lesson is simple: Slow down and enjoy life.
- LOVE IS KIND.
Every single day, choose to be kind. Ask yourself each morning, “How could I be a blessing to someone today?” Whether it is a kind word, a loving gesture or helping someone in need, seek ways to be kind daily. Not only will it be a blessing to those you encounter, but it feels good to your soul.
- LOVE DOES NOT ENVY.
There will always be someone who appears to have “more” or to be doing better. Make a decision not to be envious of others, but in every circumstance of life to find a reason to be thankful. Jealousy poisons your attitude, builds resentment and can ruin relationships. Rather than envying others, learn from them. Even be inspired by them. And simultaneously, choose to be content with what you have while you journey towards something better.
- LOVE DOES NOT BOAST AND IS NOT PROUD.
Resist the temptation to boast about yourself, your accomplishments or your loved ones. It often only makes others feel “less than,” which of course, is not an expression of love. Practice humility. Allow your accomplishments to speak for themselves. Others often notice your good work and deeds, even without you having to make a big deal of them. In fact, it is far more attractive to simply “be” great than to try to convince others of your greatness.
- LOVE IS NOT RUDE OR EASILY ANGERED.
We’ve all had our moments when our behavior has been less than considerate. Next time you feel the urge to be rude, inconsiderate or to jump to conclusions, stop yourself. Take a deep breath and ask, “What would be a more loving response to this situation?” That doesn’t mean that you allow others to walk all over you. You can speak the truth to people in a very matter of fact way, without being rude. Be considerate of others’ feelings and be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.
- LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.
Have you ever known someone who remembered every mistake you ever made or everything you ever did wrong? As you have grown and become a better person, all they can remember is the person you used to be. It is very frustrating and you may even find yourself ready to distance yourself from that person. Learn from the past behavior of others – and protect yourself accordingly, when necessary – but resist the temptation to continually bring up everything someone has done wrong. Love others by encouraging them towards a better future, not defining them by their past.
- LOVE REJOICES IN THE TRUTH.
So often, it seems we are afraid of the truth. When something is wrong, we pretend everything is OK. Often both parties will pretend even when both parties know there is a problem. One of the most important love skills you can learn is to be honest. Refuse to live lies or to accept lies as truth. Have truthful conversations with yourself and others. It allows you to get to the core of issues faster. It empowers others to trust you. It relieves the stress of tiptoeing around the real issues. Learn to speak the truth in a spirit of love and kindness, and your life will be richer and more fulfilling.
My challenge to you this week:
In a situation that is challenging or frustrating to you, find a way to express love. Perhaps it’s time to call a truce, forgive someone who has done you wrong, tell the truth or be more patient. What could you do to be more loving?
What makes the person most important to you feel loved? What are three ways that you could incorporate more of it into your interaction with this person? What makes you feel loved? How could you communicate this in a loving way?