Love isn't always an easy choice.
Sometimes people are hard to love. Really hard to love. Especially if we feel like they're making our lives more difficult or they aren't particularly nice people.
Sometimes it's ourselves that we find hard to love. We can be unhappy with how we look, or with how we reacted in a situation. Or we can be unhappy with where we are in our lives and blame ourselves for our shortcomings.
When we choose to let love in, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being disappointed. We make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of getting hurt.
But we also open ourselves up to the possibility of being healed. Of being loved. Of being happy.
Love isn't always an easy choice. But it's a good choice.
When we choose to let love in, we are choosing hope. We are choosing peace. We are choosing to trust. And this can allow for some beautiful things to happen.
Fill yourself with so much love that there won't be room for hate. Be the love.
Now I know, it's easier said than done.
I know how hard it is to be loving when everything seems to be going wrong, and you want to hate on everyone and everything.
I know how hard it is to be loving when someone does something that really hurts and offends you, and you want to lash out or get even.
I know how hard it is to be loving when you're unhappy with something about yourself and feel like you don't have any love to give.
But choosing love is the most important step to being truly happy in life.
This can be as simple as "Today I am thankful for this really good cup of tea" or "I am thankful for these few minutes to myself". Big things, small things, is doesn't matter. But expressing gratitude leaves no room for negativity and helps you remember your blessings.
Choose to be around people that inspire you and lift you up, as much as you can. If you can't find one of these people in your immediate area, reach out to one. Strike up a conversation with the stranger that smiled at you on the train, or send a thoughtful text to someone you love. Be the love by spreading the love.
This is guaranteed to make some stranger (or many) smile. It might even change someone's life. Yes, really! Post-It notes are a great way to leave anonymous love notes to strangers. On the bus window, a bathroom stall wall, the office fridge...you name it.
We all know that having expectations for people/situations almost always leads to disappointment. So to set yourself up for success, don't have any. If you don't have any expectations, you'll be open to more things - and will be much easier to impress when the outcome is positive.
As a member of society, we're pretty much programmed to be judgmental of other people. When someone doesn't fit 'our ideal' - whether it be how they look, act, talk etc, our first thought is "they're different, so they must be wrong". But this is not the case and thinking so will leave us close minded. Instead try a more loving approach and that criticism into empowerment.
For example, when you see someone wearing something that's not your taste.
Criticism: "Wow, that's a tacky outfit"
Empowerment: "Wow, that's a unique outfit."
By swapping out a negative word for a more positive word, you're already that much closer to being more open-minded and loving to others.
Writing is a great way to let go of your negative feelings without hurting anybody else. If you're upset with someone or something, try writing down the things you wish you could say (but won't) then tear up or burn the paper. As you're tearing the paper up visualize the negative emotions being destroyed with the paper or try repeating a peaceful mantra.
For example, "I am not controlled by anger. I forgive you. I release you. I choose peace".
Listening to someone is a way to show we truly care. This is especially important in relationships (and during arguments!). When someone else tells you how they feel, pay close attention to the way they say it and the words they say. If they've had a bad day, let them vent and if they've had a good day, celebrate with them. Everyone just needs to have their feelings validated to feel loved.
Try finding something extraordinary in the ordinary. Even the most mundane or simplest thing can be beautiful - it's all in how you look at it. You can even make it a game - take something simple in your house or something you see on the street and find something you appreciate (not necessarily like) about it. Like the house that's not in your taste at all - but is really well crafted or a lovely shade of blue. By looking for a little something beautiful in everything (and everyone) we open ourselves up to more beauty and more love.
Turn the screens off for a while, and take yourself outside. Go for a bike ride, bring your coffee outside, or try a walk in the park. Not only will the fresh air and activity do you good, but a change of scenery can work wonders on improving your mood. I personally love to look at the night sky. There's just something about looking up at a sky full of stars that makes all your problems seem so much smaller on the grand scale of things.
The most important step to loving others is to first love ourselves. Make choices that show yourself love. Eat food that make you feel good and nourishes your body. Find a way to get active in a way that makes you happy - running, working out, dancing, yoga. Make time to spend by yourself in meditation and to be creative. Praise yourself when you do something well and if you fail at something, be kind to yourself about it.
Love is all you need. Choose to be the love.
For some love mantra inspiration, check out Liz Lamoreux's blog post "10 Mantras to Help You Choose Love Today". You won't be disappointed!
Photo by Julia Janeta.