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What Does the Word ‘Love’ Mean To You?

What Does the Word ‘Love’ Mean To You?

“Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!”

Moulin Rouge – a movie all about love with their well-known quote, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”. The movie perfectly portrays how two people who were not allowed to be together would do everything in their willpower to love each other till they take their last breath.

That’s probably the general view of loving someone unconditionally that you would do everything and anything to be together. However, with over 7 billion people on this planet, not everyone will have the same definition. Love is a very diverse term. Everyone needs it in some way or another, and therefore, everyone has their own definition to what ‘love’ means to them.

Haikal, 12, Romantic, Adventurous

In my opinion, love is not how much you say ‘I love you’ but how much you can prove it’s true. It’s about how patient and kind you are, it does not include boasting, it is not how arrogant and rude you are.

Love means accepting a person with all their failures, stupidities, and their imperfection. For example, love means there is no more busy world, it’s always about priorities. You will always find times you feel the most important about.

So in conclusion, I think love is a variety of different feelings; it’s about accepting someone for who they are and have feelings and do whatever it takes to have their forgiveness or even their heart.

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Joseph, 21, Withdrawn Over-Thinker

I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction at first sight, yes. Affection at first sight, perhaps. But love?

Love, to me, rests on the same cline as companionship. And companionship is the foundation of love. Respect, understanding, and enthusiasm are the pillars on which this foundation is built – not initial attraction, not initial perception.

I suppose I am, to an extent, a victim of the ‘mere-exposure effect,’ in which a preference for someone or something comes with familiarity. I was close friends with my girlfriend for seven years before ‘asking her out,’ and I truly think that this friendship has served as an excellent point of reference over the last two years.

Therein lies the crux of my contention: love is not the gunshot signaling that the race has begun, but nor is it the feeling of crossing the finishing line. Love is the race – the journey – itself. Cliché? Yeah, sort of, but I do think it holds that the muddy concept of ‘love’ cannot be confined to the claustrophobic space of initial meeting, and this casts heavy doubts over the idea of love at first sight.

I respect but can’t identify with the desire for ‘one night stands’ or ‘wicked hooks,’ or whatever lingo is being used these days to denote seemingly frivolous dealings with a significant (or not so significant) other. It simply isn’t in my personality to consider such physical interaction to be so detached from emotional connection.

Of course, that’s not to say that love is static; it is an ever-changing construct, arbitrarily named and largely blurred at its edges. For some people, love at first sight might both exist and be fruitful, and I’m totally fine with that. In fact, let me make an amendment to my opening statement: I don’t believe in love at first sight for me.

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Love exists outside the realm of human relationships, but I think nuanced meaning clouds its existence. I love coffee, I love the fresh air, and I love poetry, but I’m not in love with them.

I am in love with my girlfriend.

Kirsty, 23, Secretly Sentimental

An important element of love is to love yourself. Accept yourself and embrace the parts of yourself that you don’t necessarily like about yourself. This is an important lesson in how to love someone else. If you love yourself, you can be more generous with the love you give to others. You find yourself feeling more fulfilled and more loved than you could possibly imagine. You’ll find yourself smiling at the thought of whoever it is that you find you love. Love means seeing flaws and accepting them as positive traits. You’ll feel a sense of completeness that you never knew you were lacking in the first place, and no matter how long you’ve been apart whether it be hours or months you’ll feel like you’re coming home.

Luke, 21, Avocado Enthusiast

To possess a true love for something, some place, some ideology or someone and feel the reciprocation is often perceived as a final hurdle on a pathway to utopia, ‘a hypothetical place or state of things where everything is perfect.’

If I were to use something as simple as an “avocado” as a representation of any human, object or place capable of being truly loved; love can be defined to me as the feelings you are overcome with when you stumble across one of these wonderful green oval-shaped specimens, one that is of perfect ripeness, far superior to any avocado you’ve found on the shelves before. So flawless that as your knife pierces through the delicate skin effortlessly leaving you two immaculate halves not only does your heart and mind constantly discover new boundaries of excitement but a level of contentedness and satisfaction settles in.

With a little feta cheese to accompany, all spread over the finest sourdough toast, and experienced in your own personal paradise, each bite brings forth feelings of invincibility and superiority that not a thing in the world can overcome the sheer happiness. I love avocados.

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Sarah, 14, Open-Minded and Exciting

What is love to me? Love is something unconditional and can’t really be explained in words. Of course, I’ve never experienced it yet, but it’s something I wish to feel in my lifetime.

The best way you can really say it is, it’s a feeling that you can’t shake, no matter how hard you try. The feeling when you love that special someone or something you can never live without. The feeling to need them and protect them.

Love is when you look at that person, and your heart accelerates, you get goosebumps. Every time you touch them you feel the electricity radiating off the both of you. You can never feel selfish with them and sacrifice anything or everything if it means you can be with them for the rest of your life. It’s when that person makes you happy no matter how you’re feeling. No matter the gender, ethnicity or person.

But love isn’t easy, it comes with consequences and sacrifices that if you are willing to make you know you’ve found the right someone/something.

I know very few people who are truly, deeply, and madly in love with each other, and let me tell you every time I see that it gives me the shred of hope that there actually might be someone out there for me.

So that’s what love is to me. How bout you?

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Sharvin, 19, Dog Lover

Everyone at a pinnacle point in their life has experienced love regardless if they were loved or have been loved. It’s an inevitable feeling that captures the heart with full on passion, infatuation, and desire. It comes in all sorts of forms like with family, friends or an intimate love. In my experience, love “feels so good but hurts so bad”, I went through many amazing memories of my life with the women I love but at the end, it will either end up a fairytale or just like a wrecking ball being swung at you at immense pace.

My love generally lies in the animal kingdom. Such exquisite creatures roaming on our planet for millions of years and have been proven a predominant significance. Dogs are my favorite, especially pugs, golden retrievers, shih tzu, and corgi’s! I have a pet dog that, in all honesty, feels like another younger sibling. Their presence is a remedy for sadness or stress; they will be there through your ups and downs, which clearly defines the term, “dogs are a man’s best friend”. They may be a little annoying at times when it comes to barking or pooping all over the house but hey they are not as privileged as humans to have an intellect.

Marina, 20, Classic and Eclectic

To me, love is the most powerful thing on this planet. It can make you go crazy, feel every emotion a human ought to feel all mixed together, it can make you sick, and it can also make you feel more alive than anything ever can. Whether it’s loving yourself or loving someone else (or even loving an idea or a thing), it will consume you and make you feel infinite.

To me, I know that love is the greatest thing out there – that without it, we are nothing. Something that pushes you to achieve it, no matter what others say or who stops you. It’s the happiness it can bring you when you’re feeling down and once taken away, that’s when you feel like everything has gone to hell.

To be frank, it is dangerous to love, but it’s a risk you should be willing to take. Love so deeply it overwhelms you. Once you fall in love with something or someone, you’ll know it. Trust me on this. It may take time, but it’ll be worth it. You just need to find your star.

Featured photo credit: Susanne Nilsson via flickr.com

More by this author

NOORMARINA ANWAR

Student, Monash University

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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