A few months ago, I was celebrating New Years back in the USA with old friends, reveling in the good vibes that come from happy reunions and celebrations of what life has brought within the past year.
I was catching up with a close friend of mine when he suddenly changed the topic of conversation from travel plans to what my new resolutions were.
His question took me by surprise; I honestly hadn’t given any thought to it. Without thinking about it, I said the first thing that came to my mind:
“To be more loving to people.”
He gave me a knowing smile and said, “That’s a really good one.” We continued the conversation along other lines and didn’t revisit the topic.
It was only the next day that I thought over what I had said. It changed my approach to the last few days of my yearly visit home, prompting me to mend up old gripes with my parents, and it set a new tone for returning to daily life in Frankfurt.
About two months later, just before Valentine’s Day, a friend lent me a book she had just finished reading and thought I would like. It’s called The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships, by Richard Templar, and is a mix of common sense ideas and well-put principles for growing fulfilling relationships throughout life and building up the love that is already there.
But some of the “rules” seemed a bit too passive to me, if I held them up to my new resolution of being more loving.
Being more loving means taking action.
There are times for airy, dreamy talk about love, but even better are the concrete, down-to-earth ways to actively cultivate love on a daily basis.
To act on my resolution and share the love with you, I’d like to offer you my favorite ideas inspired from concepts in The Rules of Love: 7 powerful ways to bring more love – of all kinds – into your life:
1. Be able to be happy on your own
(Rule 3: you won’t be happy with a partner until you can be happy on your own)
As the author puts it, “this doesn’t mean be a hermit, but it does mean taking as much time as you need to become happy with yourself.”
It’s a question of finding a balance in relying on a combination of internal and external sources of happiness.
Are you capable of providing yourself with a certain amount of happiness in the first place? If not, can you expect to fill the “happiness gap” sustainably by seeking it only in external sources?
I’d like to share with you 3 mini power strategies to be happy on your own:
> Recognize that you always have a choice: you can view being on your own as a negative thing, or you can embrace it.
> Once you’ve gotten over that first mental hurdle of discomfort, commit to using this chance of being on your own to discover more about yourself.
> If you notice yourself scrambling for things to distract you from being on your own, take a second to check in with yourself. Are you taking good care of yourself? What could you do immediately that would bring you back into balance?
The thing is, it’s easier to share love with other people if you’re happy with yourself. If you’re in balance and taking responsibility for your own happiness, it’s all the more natural to want others to experience it too.
2. Make them laugh
(Rule 5: choose someone who makes you laugh)
Humor is a funny thing – in both the amusing and odd sense of the word “funny”. When you laugh, you exert muscles to produce your own personal “ha ha” sound, which triggers an increase in endorphins (the feel-good brain chemicals).
Think about when you’ve experienced social laughter: relaxed and contagious, it creates closeness within a group of friends, for example.
Humor has shown to be effective for increasing resilience in dealing with distress. Laughing is proven to increase pain resistance and is effective in undoing the impact of negative emotions.
What does that mean? Make someone laugh, and you’re being a sneaky ninja in their brain undoing stress! What’s not to love about that?
3. Accept the differences, embrace what you have in common
To love is to accept. If you want to bring more love into your life, you have to accept the supportive people who are already there.
Sure, some of them are going to drive you nuts at times, but if they feel that you see the benefit of their quirks and oddities, they’ll feel more comfortable and will be more inclined to show how thankful they are by sending positivity your way.
We know that the best teams contain people with different strengths. The sooner you can get to the core of a person, determine their strengths and put aside any differences, the sooner you’ll surround yourself with a great “team” of supportive, lovely people and awesome relationships.
4. Know when to listen and when to act
When someone close to you comes to you with a problem, it’s usually your gut reaction to try to help, right?
This rule comes down to simplicity: sometimes it’s best not to try to fix someone else’s problem, but to just *be* for a person. When they’re a stormy fury, you get to sit and be a rock for them to break on.
Templar touches on the psychology of this, writing, “We human beings are strange creatures and need to know that our reactions and behavior are acceptable.”
The next time someone shares a problem with you, give them permission to feel angry, or annoyed, or hurt. With a touch of grounded love, you’re doing prep work for the next time you are in their shoes and need to vent.
5. If you can say something nice, do
You might have learned the complement to this rule when you were a kid: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
Let’s assume you follow that one – most of the time – and are already pretty good at holding your tongue around people when it counts.
Just how much might those same people react differently, or better, if you started proactively being kind?
How could you start being kind in the in-between spaces, in the downtime when nothing special is happening that would normally push you to be extra nice or to give a compliment for no reason?
Templar puts it well: “We all need reassurance and encouragement. We’re human, and that’s how we work.”
It’s exactly then, in the in-between times where the people around you aren’t expecting your kindness – or aren’t necessarily needing it – that you’ll have the most impact in building a baseline of love.
You might give a spontaneous gift or compliment, reach out to help when it hasn’t yet been asked for, or (to get back to the power of laughter) brighten their day with a well-timed joke.
That baseline becomes a reflection of what you are at your core: someone who is great to be around, and it’s an easy, natural thing to love greatness.
6. Be that person who excites, uplifts, and is a pleasure to have around
(Rule 42: Make sure your partner is always pleased to see you)
Similar to Rule 37, Rule 42 is most effective when you’re not necessarily at your best, or when the people around you are going about their normal day-to-day business.
It’s a parallel concept as the one above: you’re establishing a baseline for yourself as a proactive person who literally shines on those around you.
The more you share uplifting moments, excitement, happiness and whatever other daily pleasure you get out of life, the more the people around you will care about your happiness, simply because they know when you feel good, you’ll be actively making them feel good too.
7. The more you put out, the more you get back
Templar writes: “The universe doesn’t always give back love from where you gave it. Your generosity to one person may be returned by a complete stranger. But if you keep putting it out wherever you see that it’s needed, you’ll keep getting it back in buckets.”
Call it the Law of Attraction or whatever you like. The return on your investment will most certainly manifest, though perhaps not in the way you might have expected it.
Give this rule a chance to work, and learn from the experience. Trust me, you’ll love it.
You’ll have noticed by now that the art of bringing love into your life is not-so-secretly focused on finding ways to actively share/spread/shine love outwards.
Essentially, it’s about making life easier and more pleasant for others because you truly want to.
Some will notice, and they will return the pleasantness in kind.
Invest in making it a daily habit, and you’ll see how quickly the returns can grow.
I’d *love* to hear about your thoughts and experiences on this topic, so please leave a comment below.
Cheers (and lots of love),
About the Author
Ginger is a Peak Potentials Coach and the Feel Good Team’s resident nomad. Through her coaching, she helps you navigate major transitions, whether to new locations, new jobs or to new phases in life. Ginger also coordinates with writers for The Feel Good Lifestyle so that you have fresh, inspiring content.