Many people believe love is a sensation that magically generates when Mr. or Ms. Right appears. No wonder so many people are single. An excerpt from “Head to Heart.”
A few years ago, I spoke to a group of high-schoolers about the idea of love.
“Someone define love,” I said.
“Doesn’t anyone want to try?” I asked.
Still no response.
“Then i said: I’ll define it, and you raise your hands if you agree. Okay?”
“Okay. Love is that feeling you get when you meet the right person.”
Every hand went up. And I thought, Oy.
This is how many people approach a relationship. Consciously or unconsciously, they believe love is a sensation (based on physical and emotional attraction) that magically, spontaneously generates when Mr. or Ms. Right appears. And just as easily, it can spontaneously degenerate when the magic “just isn’t there” anymore. You fall in love, and you can fall out of it.
What is love — real, lasting love?
Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another’s goodness.
The word “goodness” may surprise you. After all, most love stories don’t feature a couple enraptured with each other’s ethics.
LOVE IS A CHOICE
If love comes from appreciating goodness, it needn’t just happen — you can make it happen. Love is active. You can create it. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). If you can do this easily, you’ll love easily.
I was once at an intimate concert in which the performer, a deeply spiritual person, gazed warmly at his audience and said, “I want you to know, I love you all.” I smiled tolerantly and thought, “Sure.” Looking back, though, I realize my cynicism was misplaced. This man naturally saw the good in others, and our being there said enough about us that he could love us. Judaism actually idealizes this universal, unconditional love.
Obviously, there’s a huge distance from here to the far more profound, personal love developed over the years, especially in marriage. But seeing goodness is the beginning.
By focusing on the good, you can love almost anyone.
ACTIONS AFFECT FEELINGS
Now that you’re feeling so warmly toward the entire human race, how can you deepen your love for someone? The way ALLAH created us, actions affect our feelings most. For example, if you want to become more compassionate, thinking compassionate thoughts may be a start, but giving charity will get you there. Likewise, the best way to feel loving is to be loving — and that means giving.
While most people believe love leads to giving, the truth is exactly the opposite: Giving leads to love.
OPENING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
The effect of genuine, other-oriented giving is profound. It allows you into another person’s world and opens you up to perceiving his or her goodness. At the same time, it means investing part of yourself in the other, enabling you to love this person as you love yourself.
The more you give, the more you love.
The more you give, the more you love. This is why your parents (who’ve given you more than you’ll ever know) undoubtedly love you more than you love them, and you, in turn, will love your own children more than they’ll love you……………