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There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love. You Either Love Someone or You Don’t

There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love. You Either Love Someone or You Don’t

One of the most dangerous sentiments out there is the concept of unconditional love. We’ve been sold it for as long as any of us can remember. Everything in fiction depends on it. The wedding industry thrives upon it. It’s a concept that is so ingrained into the world that those who don’t believe in it are considered sad or somehow malformed. True, unconditional love is the thing to which all people are supposed to aspire. If you can’t find it, you’re missing something terribly important – at least, as far as the story goes. The truth is, there’s no such thing as unconditional love.

Love does exist, but it’s conditional

Sounds cynical, right? The very idea of dismissing unconditional love probably makes your skin crawl. To be fair, most of the people who would dismiss this kind of idea are pretty cynical. What they’re trying to sell is the idea that love doesn’t exist at all [1]. That’s not what’s being said here, though. There’s absolutely such a thing as love. Whether you think it’s something spiritual, something romantic, or just a bunch of chemicals, love is a real thing. Love is wonderful and it’s definitely worth seeking out. The thing that is problematic, though, is the idea that love should somehow be without conditions.

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First and foremost, it’s impossible for something to exist without attached conditions. You either do something, or you don’t. You can love someone truly, or you can not love someone . There are things that would make even the most romantic person fall out of love with another person. Imagine the most horrifying thing you can imagine, and then imagine your loved one did that. Could you still look them in the face? Could you still love them? If you did, what kind of monster would you be? That’s not love – that’s slavish devotion, and that’s never good.

Unconditional love can be a leash

We see the problems with so-called unconditional love whenever we see relationships with a power differential. How many relationships have you seen in which one person mistreats the other, yet the weaker partner will forgive anything? You don’t admire that sentiment, do you? You think of that person as weak, as deluded, as ultimately unable to do the right thing. Yet somehow, in theory, you might still believe that unconditional love is a good thing. If you apply the same standards to other people that you would to a complete stranger, you’d stop obsessing over the concept.

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Putting reasonable conditions and expectations on love makes a stronger relationship

Putting conditions on love [2] doesn’t make it weaker. It makes it far more honest. When you say you love someone, you are saying that you love who they represent themselves as. You love all the things that come together to make them a person. If one of those things was removed, it’s entirely possible that the reasons for your feelings would go away. It’s like a Jenga tower – there’s only so much that you can add or take away without making the entire thing fall over. Love can’t be built on that kind of foundation.

There’s a lot of freedom in abandoning a concept like unconditional love. If you move away from it, you realize that you can begin to reasonably put expectations on how another person treats you and acts. You aren’t committing some kind of horrible act if you walk away from someone who treats you poorly – you are being honest about the fact that you want a strong foundation for your love. You aren’t married to some kind of outdated, outmoded myth. You want real love, the kind that is able to last. You want to be able to experience love as a positive force rather than one that is limiting.

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Love is a verb. It’s something you do

If you except that fact that love is conditional [3], you can also begin to accept the fact that love is a verb. Love is something you do, not something that just happens. When you start to believe this, you start to believe that you will actually have to work for the love of someone else. You can’t be lazy and complacent, because you remember you are loved for what you do, not just who you are. You will suddenly become a better partner because you realize that the other person in your relationship actually deserves some effort.

Should love be thrown away at the drop of a hat? No. It’s something that’s worth preserving. You should not, however, trap yourself just because you think love has to be eternal. This gives you the freedom to love people but to still expect effort from them. It helps you from being trapped by tradition and allows you the chance to be a better person. The more you realize that love is conditional, the more you will be able to see how conditional love is the best thing that could happen to you. Conditional love can last – but it’s built on a foundation or realism, not fantasy.

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Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Is Unconditional Love Possible?
[2] Psych Central: When Unconditional Love Has Conditions
[3] Garden Plants Nursery: Unconditional Love

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Tammy Sons

Master Gardener, Horticulurist, Arborist

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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