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Culture

4 Habits of Loving People

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Have you ever asked yourself if the people you love know that you love them? We’ve all heard that love is a verb, something we need to cultivate through our words and actions. Yet it’s all too easy to take it for granted. “She knows I love her,” we say to ourselves, and yet we may not remember the last time we actually said the words. Maybe we’ve seen too many romantic movies and think that the only way to show love is through grand gestures, when really the key is in our everyday actions. As Father Moon says:

“If we think of love as small, it is very small; and if we think of love as large, it is very large. A slight wink from a loved one would make you feel as if heaven and earth were turning upside down. A smile from the one you love would make you feel as if all of heaven and earth were within your heart.”

We don’t need to plan extravagant vacations or buy expensive gifts. Love is something that can be cultivated in small, day-to-day moments. So why don’t we? If love is so important, why do we take it for granted?

There are thousands of tips and ideas to spice up our marriage, as well as hundreds of sites suggesting daily acts of kindness. If we sat for five minutes, we probably could think of ten nice things that we could do for a loved one right now. But how do we get from knowing to doing? It takes a shift in mindset, a change in the way that we show up in our relationships.

People who express their love every day:

Are Willing to Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability feels scary. That’s why many of us spend most of our lives avoiding it. We fear being seen as weak, or we anticipate being hurt, so it seems better to build up walls and pretend we don’t care. The problem is, true intimacy requires vulnerability. Brené Brown, the famous American researcher on topics such as courage and shame and the author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, says in her book: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

True love requires us to take off the mask we wear for the world and to give another person permission to do the same. Love has no pretense. We need to be willing to open ourselves up to the hurt in order to let in the joy. To cultivate love sometimes means being willing to let down our guard, maybe even make a fool of ourselves!

Dare to Be Wrong

Have you ever heard the phrase “You can be right or you can be happy”? Sometimes in relationships we forget that love is an equal partnership, and we start keeping score. We think about what we deserve, or how our needs are not being met. We may be right, but what people in loving relationships know is that being right doesn’t matter.

In fact, according to clinical psychologist Kelly Flanagan, Marriage Is for Losers. He asserts that when both marriage partners give up the need to be right, “These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.”

So what’s more important: being right, or being merciful, loving and peaceful? Is being right holding us back from expressing and experiencing love?

Sacrifice

Daring to be wrong means sacrificing our own desires and ego for the sake of the other person and for the sake of the relationship as a whole. The Bible says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Or, as Father Moon puts it, “Everything will work out if we live for the sake of others.”

Love means thinking about someone else more than ourselves. To give up being right, to put ourselves in a vulnerable position, is a sacrifice of our own comfort or position. In a relationship in which two persons are willing to sacrifice for one another, love can blossom and thrive.

Practice

None of us is perfect. We are all practicing love. We won’t always get it right, but we keep making the effort, day to day, year to year. Those small moments, the smile or the wink, the things we do with someone other than ourselves in mind—that is where love grows. So let’s be vulnerable, be wrong, sacrifice, and let’s show someone how much we love them!