“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” ~Jack Kornfield
We all grow up with some healthy stories about love and some unhealthy ones. I learned some beautiful, life-giving ideas about love, ideas like these:
But I also grew up with some stories about love that I came to see weren’t so helpful. Those ideas about love bred problems in my relationships.
One of those stories was: Loving someone means always being available to them. (Turns out, it’s not true, and living as if it is breeds resentment.)
Another was: Loving someone means always having space for what they want to talk to you about. (Turns out, not true either!)
Another myth about love: If you love someone, you do what they are asking you to do, out of love, even if it feels difficult. (I can tell you, that doesn’t work so well.)
I’ve developed my own guidelines for loving the people in my life, guidelines that express how I want to relate to the people around me.
These are some of my guidelines for loving:
1. Tell them about their brilliance. They likely can’t see it and they don’t know its immensity, but you can see it, and you can illuminate it for them.
2. Be authentic, and give others the gift of the real you and a real relationship. Ask your real questions. Share your real beliefs. Go for your real dreams. Tell your truth.
3. Don’t confuse “authenticity” with sharing every complaint, resentment, or petty reaction in the name of “being yourself.” Meditate, write, or do yoga to work through anxiety, resentment, and stress on your own so you don’t hand off those negative moods to everyone around you. Sure, share sadness, honest dilemmas, and fears, but be mindful: don’t pollute.