So I've been spending some time lately thinking about unconditional love. Well, I'll get to the unconditional part later, probably another time, but what I've been reflecting on is that deep kind of love, that kind that you feel in your core so deeply, and it becomes innate. True love, if you will. And I've been thinking about why people struggle with it. I mean, I don't mean to pretend I know everything, or that I must know best, but I think there are some thoughts and opinions that each of us can share with the world, maybe to increase our overall understanding of, well...everything. So with that disclaimer qualifying my thoughts and opinions as non-expert (there's another thought - how is someone an expert on love? Someone conducting academic research on love as a psychological topic? I dunno. But once again, I digress) please indulge my stream of consciousness ramblings.
I think what is missing is loving truly. In the simplest of terms, just loving truly.
Loving someone so purely, so kindly, so that you very genuinely care about what happens to them. Wanting them to be happy, not only just in the short term, but now and forever. And in an altruistic sense, so you care about them happy just for the sake of their happiness, rather than them being happy as something that makes you happy. Honestly caring about what they think about, what makes them tick, their opinions, thoughts about the love, life, the world, and everything in between. Again, for them, not for you. Wanting to share things that make you happy, so they can feel that joy, too. Wanting to share the things that make them happy, so you can share, and in the sharing, bolster their joy.
And very genuinely working toward that goal. Doing things, shaping your life, your goals, your plans for the future to help bolster the chance for love and happiness.
Maybe that's where we, as a society, are missing out. We are not actively working toward that goal. And why? I think we are afraid to.
We hear about high divorce rates. We see our friends and families breaking up. We hear about how people taking advantage of other people. And somehow, in these stories, there is always someone who is the sucker. The one who should have known better. The one everyone else, standing atop a mountain of hindsight bias and outsider opinions, thinks should have known better. Should have seen it coming. Is just silly and stupid. Should have known better.
And in some desperate attempt to not be that sucker, we are not allowing ourselves to love truly, and to really put in the work that true love requires. We don't want expend all that time and effort, only to end up being the sucker who should have known better. We live in a world with an influx of information. We don't want to seem silly. So we restrain ourselves from showing how much we love, and from doing the things that show it.
We are afraid. We are afraid of finding out that all of our efforts were for naught.
We are afraid of getting hurt. But I don't think that is a standalone statement. I think we are afraid of getting hurt and feeling silly, and feeling like the sucker. I think all of these things are so deeply intertwined, that it is stopping us, as a society, from loving truly and putting in the work to get there.
So we put up this shield. This protective barrier between ourselves and the rest of the world. Hide out in a me first mindset, believing that if I just focus on what makes me happy, then I will be okay. Because I won't betray myself, and fuck everyone else. And people should just love me. Love will just happen to me. It'll just exist because that's how it works, right?
I don't mean to bash on the importance of taking care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for those that you love. So that you can add to the sum total of love and happiness of yourself, those you love, those around you, and the world at large. But I think there is a moment where we need to stop, and make sure that we haven't developed a too narrow focus on self, that we've forgotten to take account of the hearts and minds of those that we love.
Sure, being focused on yourself can be helpful for academic and career success. Allows you the time and frees up brainpower that might have been expended on others to other aspirations. And maybe that works for some people. And if that is what they love, and want to do, then that's great. So maybe my opinions have more to do with people looking for more of a balance. A balance of success in career and family. Of work and love.
Maybe that's it. Balance. Finding a balance so that true love can be part of our lives. I don't know. Maybe I'm taking on too many things here.
I just think that we, as a society, need to get back to loving truly. And to get back to being willing to put ourselves out there, and to put in the work that true love requires. I don't mean work as in buying flowers on valentine's day, or following certain steps. But putting in work in first allowing yourself to feel that kind of love, and to put yourself out there and risk being the sucker, and then putting in the work to make your loved ones happy. Not doing things for approval so they like you better. Not showing them love so they can show you love back. Doing things that you know will fill your loved ones' hearts and minds with joy and happiness. And doing the work to listen, pay attention, and understand enough to know what those things are. Not on a surface level. Not in a here is a cookie because you said you like cookies kind of way. But in a very genuine, I know what would make your heart happy, and I'm gonna do my best to do that thing kind of way. And maybe we can't truly know or understand, but we can sure as hell try. Not try in a small way. But in a deeply committed, going to try everyday with all the resources I have, kind of way.
And maybe, if we were all willing to put this kind of work into love, happiness, and understanding, well, then maybe this world would be a happier, loving kind of place.