Love makes the world go round. We need love, as much as we need food, water, and shelter – our lives are lonely and meaningless without it. Unfortunately, in modern times the word ‘love’ is synonymous with romantic love. Moreover, it has been trivialized to expensive gift-giving and fancy dinners. It’s time we stop over-hyping romance and begin appreciating the many other kinds of love in our lives.
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Types of Love
The ancient Greeks characterized love into 4 different kinds/types of affectionate relationships. And luck plays a big role in love as in life.
1. Eros (Passionate/Sexual Love)
If you are lucky you will meet your dream man/woman and settle down with your dream lover. If not you will spend your entire youth busy searching for that elusive person, overlooking and unappreciative of the other good things in your life. Sometimes, when it comes to romantic love it is wiser to settle sooner than later, particularly when it comes to women. However, remember, don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
2. Philia (Friendly/Brotherly Love)
Philia is a love built on respect, equality, familiarity, and understanding. Here again, lady luck determines who we meet, who will be our teachers and neighbors. Nurturing and supporting these relationships in our lives makes our journey easier and more enjoyable. Respect your friends and get rid of your enemies. There is no point tolerating people who only use and manipulate you.
3. Storge (Familial/Affectionate Love)
Storge is familial love, the affectionate love you have for your family, whether that be your son, daughter, mother, father, or immediate/extended family. If you are lucky you would have grown up in a family where you were truly loved for who you are and that’s what makes all the difference how life unfolds for you. A loving family vaccinates you from life’s mental and physical health issues.
It is an erroneous assumption that all are loved by their families. It is a heartbreaking legacy to grow up in a toxic family where you are hated and abused. The sooner you accept that your family is dysfunctional and cut them out the better chance you have of finding happiness.
4. Agape (Unconditional Love)
Agape is unconditional love for oneself and for all others. Reaching this state of being is tantamount to being in a state of enlightenment when we can feel the all-encompassing love of God for man, and when we can return that feeling of love for God and man we experience.
Agape is the highest form of love. experience of this kind of love is what truly heals all our wounds and restores our mind-body and spirit making us truly whole. We can be transformed by a single act, word, look that makes us feel loved and cherished.
It is in this loving compassionate holding that we feel truly seen and heard.
Born Into Love
Research has shown that the kind of care a baby receives post birth affects its development. Warm, responsive care is good for the brain which eventually translates into better physical and emotional health. Experiencing unconditional love as a child is the greatest gift anyone can receive. Without this input in our early years, we will spend the rest of life feeling something is just not right with us.
Having a good enough parent makes all the difference to our well-being and success.
Love Does Not Die
I was lucky to have a loving caring mother for the first 10 years of my life. And it was the warmth of her memories that sustained me through the difficult times post her death. I truly believe that true love never dies and I have really felt my mother guide and assist me from the other world.
I know it is her because when alive she spoke to me in a quiet and calm tone. Post her death whenever I have been troubled and needed advice, I call out to her and I hear that same calm voice telling me what to do. Like most daughters, sometimes I have bypassed her advice and have rued my decision. She has guided my decisions, some of which I would not have the courage to take on my own.
I remember once my boss was threatening me with transfer to another section and I was really sick of the job, my mother told me to tell him I would be giving him my resignation. I listened to her and told him I would be resigning. It turned out to be the right thing to do. There have been so many instances where the choices I have made are based on what my mother’s guidance from beyond.
There is a spirit world inhabited with the souls of our loved ones, our angels, and God, we just need to believe and ask for help. Trusting in a loving dimension beyond this earthly existence that we can tap into makes our journey in this life more easy and smooth.
Kindness Is Love
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said the way to heaven is to love God and love your neighbor. The parable lucidly shows how kindness is love in action.
Kindness means that regardless of your beliefs, you can assist someone in need. Moreover, being kind does not take much effort. Just a smile, a nod, helping another with their baggage or giving change to someone stuck at the cash counter. Every second of our lives we encounter moments where we can connect and help another human being.
These random acts of kindness have the potential to change another person’s perspective and ultimately his/her life trajectory. Kindness is good for our own health. Studies have shown that how these ordinary connections can boost our own well-being.
I don’t think I would have survived the abuse I went through as a child if it were not for my friend’s parents who were always kind to me. According to research on childhood trauma, all of the risk factors for adverse experiences can be offset by one thing – the presence of a stable, caring adult in a child’s life.
Appreciating Small Gestures, Feeling Love
Changing our life requires changing how we perceive life. Shifting our mindset from that negative, fearful reality of our traumatic past takes some effort. Growing up in a family that diminished us in small and big ways impacts how we look at life. However, we can start with finding something to be grateful for, the food, clothing, health, or that one friend who has our back
Despite our past, we have to learn to cultivate the ‘ability to appreciate and focus on the good things in our lives.
Developing feelings of gratitude causes brain changes. A daily gratitude journal reinforces new neural pathways by rewiring our brain. We begin to search for the good in everything. The more we practice gratitude the stronger and more automatic these feelings become.
Feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces the feel-good hormones in our body.
Gratitude – Love Connection
New research says thankfulness, not romance, might be key to a happy relationship. Being grateful is a powerful way to foster healthy relationships. Science is just now beginning to understand that a simple ‘thank you’ or word of appreciation triggers a biological reaction – we are flooded with the love hormone ‘ oxytocin.’ We all know the oxytocin system is the “hormone that binds adults into meaningful and important relationships.
A little gratitude is all that is needed to build strong and healthy relationships. It can transform the way you think which will change the way you feel and the vibe you transmit. People can naturally pick up on the vibes someone is sending out. Gratitude is the best way to show someone we truly love and appreciate them. Gratitude is not just good for the soul but also helps your heart. Love and gratitude are interconnected with our physical, emotional well-being and happiness.
Want to be happy? Be grateful | David Steindl-Rast –
It is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy
Heart Coherence – Finding That Loving Feeling
For those of us with a history of abuse, love can be confusing and fearful. Getting close to someone is tantamount to being hurt. This can result in high vigilance and over-sensitivity to environmental signals which are reflected in inappropriate emotional responses and autonomic nervous system dynamics.
When stressed, your heart signals “incoherence” to the brain, which inhibits your higher brain functions and triggers a stress response. To get your heart into a state of coherence you have to shift your focus on positive things which harmonizes our emotional state.
The HeartMath Institute has devised the Quick Coherence® Technique, a simple but effective way to bring about a coherent state in about a minute. Use the power of your heart to balance thoughts and emotions.
Regular practice of this simple self-regulation technique leads to lasting increases in our ability to self-regulate our emotions. Being calm helps us in our decision making, no longer do we feel that desperate need to jump into the next relationship.
Your heart’s electromagnetic field is the largest in your body. It not only envelops every cell of the body but also extends out in all directions into the space around us.
When we feel love, we radiate love and attract the right kind of love. Appreciate life, don’t chase love.
Your Whole Heart Solution by Joel K. Kahn, MD
Detox Your Heart: Meditations for Healing Emotional Trauma by Valerie Mason-Joh
The Wise Heart: Buddhist Psychology for the West by Jack Kornfield