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What Love Really Is – and Why It Matters

https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/what-love-really-is-and-why-it-matters/

theschooloflife.com

What Love Really Is – and Why It Matters
What Love Really is – and why it Matters - Articles from The School of Life, formally The Book of Life, a gathering of the best ideas around wisdom and emotional intelligence.

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A cultural endorsement of love

A cultural endorsement of love

Love is often seen as the exciting feeling we get in the presence of someone with great intelligence of beauty that we hope will reciprocate our interest and whom we badly want to touch and one day share our lives with.

But there is another definition of love that is not so much focused on the appreciation of strength as on the tolerance of, and kindness towards, the weak and misshapen.

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Love is focused on the other person

  • This type of love is displayed when we come across the itinerant drunk - weather-beaten and ranting - and do not turn away but consider them as a version of ourselves, falling prey to the same passions and getting upset by similar losses and worthy of their own share of compassion.
  • We also show love to the well-dressed person shouting grandly at an airport, filled with self-righteousness, and do not dismiss them as insane or entitled, but as vulnerable beneath the bluster.
  • We show love when we see a small child throwing themselves on the floor, and do not focus on how piercing their screams are, but that their pain is in its general form ours too.
  • It is love too when our partner is sometimes plainly irrational, unfair, and maddening, and we do not direct back a full dose of righteous anger but hold back and wonder how this formerly sane adult should have fallen apart in this manner. It is to hold open the idea that they might not have slept very well, are perhaps panicked by the future, and don't understand how to master it.

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Love for the weak

It is no particular accomplishment to love someone who is on their best behavior.

What is needed for our attention is the love of what is crooked, damaged, and self-disgusted. Here love is the effort required to imagine oneself into the life of another person who has not made it easy to admire or like them.

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The spirit of love

Nothing is more important than the love that rescues nations from intolerance, which slows wars, calms furies, and allows civilisation to continue. True love is not giving someone what their due is, but what they need in order to survive.

True love acknowledges how much we may one day stand in need of this form of love. Perhaps we may become people who know how to love properly. We may make an effort to extend love to others who have themselves failed so that society can become a less frightening place for all.

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The Complicated Relationships With Our Parents

The Complicated Relationships With Our Parents

Parents, for many of us, are a complicated relationship. They can be a source of joy and can also feel like an emotionally draining ordeal.

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Discussing With Our Parents: Unrealistic Expectations

Even if we feel that we have made our point, painstakingly making our parents understand the time we felt they did us wrong, we erroneously assume that our twenty-minute discussion will suddenly cure them of behavioural patterns that are in effect from several decades.

An outright bad parent is easier to handle, but the problem is complicated when the same parent is also caring, loving and is a genuine well-wisher.

Conflicting Emotions: Between Love and Hate

While we may think that our parents are conflicted personalities, we are unconsciously having the same kind of behavioural patterns.

We periodically love and hate our parents, and have them imbibed in our body and mind, right down to mannerisms and quirks. We care for them yet sometimes wish to stay away from them.

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Love is vital in recovering from serious mental illness

Love is vital in recovering from serious mental illness

Love is critical to help us keep faith with life and rescue us from severe mental illness.

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Love is unconditional approval

When we are sick in our minds, we have this punishing sense of how terrible we are, even if we often can't point to a specific crime. We are appalled by, and unforgiving of, who we are.

In this situation, a loving companion can make all the difference. They don't try to persuade us of our worth. They make pleasant conversation about something that won't make us anxious. They can tolerate how ill we are and will stick by us. They love us for who we are rather than what we do.

Love and non-judgment

Patronising pity can make the attention of others oppressive.

Loving companions do not judge us as beneath them. They don't oppress us by clinging to their belief in their own solidity and competence. Our companions indicate that they too might one day be in our place and suffer with and for us.

The healthy mind filters through thoughts

The healthy mind filters through thoughts

A mind in a healthy state is continuously performing a set of manoeuvres that uphold our moods.

A healthy mind is an editing mind that filters through particular ideas and ...

A healthy mind resists temptations

A healthy mind resists unfair comparisons. It does not allow the successes of others to make us feel inadequate; neither does it frequently find fault with its own nature.

A healthy mind keeps at bay critical judgements. It does not tell us how appalling we are; instead, it allows us to talk to ourselves as we would to a friend.

A healthy mind keeps a good grip on fear

A healthy mind knows that there are endless problems we could worry about. It can distinguish between what could conceivably happen and what is likely to happen.

It avoids catastrophic imaginings. It is confident that terrible things will either not happen, or it could be dealt with ably enough.