Category Archives: Love

What goes around comes around. Please be kind.

It came in a plain white sleeve with stark black typography.

John Lennon’s ‘Instant Karma’ was one of the first singles my brother Geoff and I owned.

I’m not sure either of us would have thought much about the meaning of the word ‘karma’ in those days, but it seems to make good sense to live your life according to the broad principle that you get what you give.

And what goes around comes around.

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If you want to be listened to, it makes sense to listen to others first.

To be loved, love others.

In general, to receive (sometimes), first give.

When you make a mark in the sand, perhaps it starts the ball rolling?

It feels good when people are kind to you, so today could be a good time to sow a little kindness around you.

Then perhaps reap some too.

Love the ones you’re with

Flowers? Chocolates? Something home-made?

The world divides into those who’d never dream of arriving at a social engagement without a small gift for their host, and those for whom it would never really cross their mind.

Partly a cultural thing, partly an upbringing one, there’s no doubt that it can be a nice gesture, even if the host of a dinner party does end up with four unwanted boxes of soft-centres.

Rather than turning this into an etiquette discussion however, for me it raises the more interesting point of nurturing relationships.

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It makes enormous mutual sense to show the people around us that we care. Chimpanzees do it by grooming each other.

Hopefully you’ve no need to pick fleas off your nearest and dearest, but there’s a lot to be said for taking every opportunity to invest in building your relationship, whether it’s a romantic, family, professional or simply social one.

Although it’s nice to ‘bring them flowers’, you don’t necessarily have to. A few well-chosen words can do the trick. Making an effort to listen to them, properly, can go a long way too. Some, with good reason, call these actions ‘strokes’.

Take care of the people around you and – who knows? – they may just take care of you too.

3 ways you can become more loved

Know your own needs, then allow yourself to be loved and you probably will be – particularly if you start by giving love to others.

How loved are you feeling right now? It’s an important question whose answer is sure to have a substantial impact on your overall state of wellbeing.

Actually, asking yourself how loved you feel is one of the twelve measures used by our WellBee cards to calculate your daily wellbeing score. (We’re being kept really busy hand-making sets of these cards in our California garage and shipping them off to people all over the world.)

Starting today with Loved, I’ll be writing occasional posts based on each of WellBee’s twelve cards. In fact, when Alex does a final check of each hexagonal WellBee tin before it goes in the mail she likes to make sure the Loved card is on the top of the pack: that’s how important we think it is.

It’s great to feel loved, but of course the reverse is also true. Feeling unloved can be a distressing state of mind, one often associated with periods of low mood. Believing you’re unloved is likely to lead to feeling alone, uncared-for and generally pretty miserable.

But what can you possibly do to get more love into your life? Since love comes from others, surely there’s not a lot you can do to jump-start the process? Surely you have to wait for others to love you?

Well, no. I’m fairly sure you and I have more power than we believe in this regard, and I’d like to suggest three effective starters:

1. Allow yourself to be loved. I know all too well that when my mood is low enough to cause me to shrink into my shell, I shut out others. But to be loved is to allow people to get close to you. You need to be present. You need to be open to receiving affection. So keep the lines of communication between you and others open. Show your pleasure when someone shows you affection, just as a cat purrs contentedly to let you know she enjoys being stroked.

2. Know your own needs. To some extent, feeling loved means you believe your needs are being met, so if you’ve not thought through what these are, others must simply guess. Is it important to you to be respected? Is it important to feel affection through the physical touch of others? Is it important to have your efforts recognised and your challenges commiserated with? If you think of someone you may know who seems easy to love, it’s likely you’ll have a good idea of their needs. Why not identify your own then?

3. Give love to receive love. In my view the American writer Elbert Hubbard hit the nail on its head when he said: “The love we give away is the only love we keep”. You’re far more likely to feel loved yourself when it’s you who went first, by feeling love for somebody else. Not only feeling it, of course, but demonstrating it. Why not tell someone you love them? And really mean it.

If you’d like your own set of WellBee cards they’re available here, and we’ll be delighted to send you some. In fact we’d love to.

Loving others to love yourself

No matter your age, the Exploratorium in San Francisco is a fabulous feast for the mind. In some senses it’s a science museum. However to call it just this is to do it a complete disservice, because it’s actually a vast collection of scientific experiments begging to be played with. It’s been described as “a mad scientist’s penny arcade, a scientific funhouse, and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one”, with which I’d completely agree.

I first went to the old Exploratorium as a student in my early twenties, then Alex, I and our two girls recently had a totally brilliant day when we visited its new and latest incarnation after its re-opening a little over a year ago.

The museum’s stated mission is to change the way the world learns, and if you’re ever lucky enough to spend some time there yourself one day, I’m sure you wouldn’t argue with that. In fact the old Exploratorium was founded at the end of the 1960s under the inspired leadership of physicist and educator Frank Oppenheim (younger brother of J Robert Oppenheimer who is often referred to as one of the “fathers of the atomic bomb” thanks to his work on the Manhattan Project, the World War II mission to develop atomic weaponry).

Younger brother Frank – “the other Oppenheimer” – was a particle physicist and cattle rancher, and as we’ve just seen, someone who had truly exciting views about education and learning. In fact it was he who first said “the best way to learn is to teach”, an idea which came up in a recent conversation Alex had with her friend Simon.

She told him that after practicing Tai Chi for many years, she’d gone on to teach a class herself, which was when she understood that explaining something to others requires that you have a considerably higher level of understanding.

Now, although we reflect from time to time in these posts on the impact that learning itself can have upon your mood, for a minute I’d just like you to think about the general principle of only really understanding something when you’ve first explained it to someone else.

And the “something” I have in mind? Love. Alex wrote beautifully about it yesterday, and now here’s my little variation on her theme.

In the past, when my mood has been low I really didn’t like myself and I certainly didn’t love myself. And of course this self-hatred didn’t exactly help my overall disposition. You despise yourself when your mood’s low, then your mood becomes even lower when you despise yourself.

Wonderful.

But after struggling for too many years, what I think I only now properly understand is that the only possible way to have any chance of loving yourself is to first love others, and this seems pretty profound, so I’ll say it again.

The only possible way to have any chance of loving yourself is to first love others.

So please, by all means, think of this as today unfolds – particularly if you’re feeling blue and unloved. Can you make yourself love others? Probably not. But can you at least try?

You know, I think you can.

How to fall in love today

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a loved one and felt completely safe, deeply connected, and totally in love? There’s a warm rush of excitement, and a timelessness to the moment. You could stay right there forever, wrapped up in adoration.

And then, more often than not, it flitters away, and you go back to your daily life.

But what if you could recreate that feeling whenever you wanted it? Wouldn’t that make life amazing? Imagine going through your day with colleagues and family members feeling uplifted by the smiles of love lighting up your face.

The first time I heard this idea, I thought it was crazy. I was taking a training course to be a counselor, and on the first day the teacher told us that we were going to walk through the room of about 150 students, stop in front of a random person, and spend a minute looking into their eyes and falling in love with them. Then we would go on to another person and fall in love with them, and so on. We did this about ten times, and by the end of it the room that had initially seemed scary with so many strange faces was filled with such love and connection that it seemed to glow.

My whole perspective changed, and I began to see these new people as humans like me, beautiful and struggling and loving and hurt and wonderful. We all related to each other with much more compassion and understanding after that.

So how did I do that, actually go around and fall in love with people at the drop of a hat? I don’t remember the teacher’s instructions now, but I do know how I’ve learned to do it.

Here are three things you can do to fall in love today, or right now.

1. Whenever you catch someone’s eye for more than a second, try to look a bit deeper. See if you can imagine that person as she was when she was a child, and feel the tenderness of her vulnerability. Look for the pure, innocent love of a young boy shining out of his heart underneath that tough exterior. Then notice if your heart softens just a bit.

2. This second tip is from Amma, the “hugging saint.” Jon and I took our girls to see her last week. She has comforted an astounding 34 million people with individual healing hugs. Amma said in her talk that though you may have a hundred different buckets of water, each one reflects the same sunshine.

If you can tap into this realization that there is the same light and love in everyone else’s heart as there is in yours, you won’t feel so separate from them, and you might start to love the part of them that is the same as you.

3. We are often quick to judge people, especially people we don’t know well. But what do we know about them, really? If you notice yourself falling into judgment, as we all do, think about this quote attributed to Plato: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always.

What if the woman on the train across from you just lost her son, or the cashier who rang up your order was just diagnosed with cancer, or the DJ from last night’s dance struggles with chronic pain? You might find your heart feeling more compassionate as you think about them now. Maybe you feel a sense of wanting to take care of them and send them love.

So those are my three tips for falling in love today. Do you have others? If you try one of them out today, let me know how it works for you!