Love Is Life’s Largest Lesson

In 1965, I heard a beautiful song on the radio. Jackie DeShannon was singing, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…” Today, many decades later, those lyrics are just as true as they were back then.

The dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection” and then goes on to further define and elaborate.

Here are some of my favorite thoughts on love:

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” -Aristotle

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” -Emily Bronte

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” -Elbert Hubbard

Some people seem to be walking definitions of “love.” People the world over admire, honor—even worship—Jesus. The Bible says, “He went about doing good.” Jesus told his followers, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Some things I’ve learned about love:

1) We have to first love ourselves before we can truly love someone else. How can we give what we do not have? Therefore, how we see ourselves is crucial. I believe each of us is a masterwork of a loving Creator. It has been said that God is love. If that is true, then all of us are also love at our centers. Therefore, one of life’s most important tasks is to rediscover our true selves. From that center, we can shine our love brightly into the world through our words and actions.

2) Love can be expressed in countless ways, and every individual has their unique ways of doing so. We should be careful to not judge the loving expressions of others by our standards—If you really loved me, you would… We should accept and express gratitude for the gifts of love we receive.

“When a child gives you a gift, even if it is a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. it may be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you.” -Dean Jackson

I recently attended a workshop conducted by an artist friend. When I approached him after class, he held out the demonstration painting he had completed and said, “I would like you to have this, Mark. Thank you for your friendship.” That act of “love” meant the world to me.

3) Many times, we have no idea how much our expressions of love are appreciated or the influence they have—sometimes, we are fortunate enough to be told. I found the following comment after an essay I recently posted: “You have to be one of the kindest, wisest, most humble men I’ve had the privilege to meet. You’re a special man, Mr. Swain!” I was deeply touched.

4) One question I ask myself when trying to decide how to respond to people and situations in my life is “What would love do?” I have never regretted following the answers from my heart.

Friends, I believe that love is the sure foundation on which solutions to all of the challenges we face in this world can be built.