Love isn’t always easy, but that’s part of what makes it meaningful. Too often we withhold love when something or someone displeases us. Yet we can exercise this deep affection regardless of feelings.
Choosing to love when faced with a conflict, challenge, or stressor may help relieve anxiety, increase resilience, and improve our well-being.
We can learn to love during all of our interactions and activities by becoming more mindful and aware of our feelings in the moment. For example, when a friend bails on dinner plans, try to acknowledge your disappointment at missing time together — but instead of firing off a sarcastic text or making assumptions based on limited information, try asking your friend what happened and whether everything is OK.
Or, rather than losing your cool at having to vacuum again (how does your dog have any fur left?), try recognizing your frustration, and then lean in to your gratitude for a companion who brings you so much joy.
You can choose to respond in a loving way to these and other stressors, even when you don’t feel loving. Take five minutes in the morning to meditate using the LOVE technique. If you encounter challenges during the day, take a five-minute time-out to revisit this practice and reset your intention.
L: Look inward and identify a person or a task you find difficult to love. How did you behave the last time you met that individual or performed that activity? No shaming; just reflect.
O: Observe how you behave toward someone you find easy to love or how you engage when doing a project you enjoy. How is your mindset, body language, and conduct different from the difficult-to-love example?
V: Visualize behaving lovingly during every interaction. Imagine what it would feel like to consistently engage with the world in this way.
E: Examine and set aside emotions that block your willingness to behave lovingly toward tasks and people you encounter today. Hold yourself to a higher standard: Love anyway.
This article originally appeared as “How to LOVE Anyway” in the December 2022 issue of Experience Life.