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15 Truths About Love We Tend to Forget

15 Truths About Love We Tend to Forget

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.”

Although this quote may be the most famous quote on love, taken straight from the Gospels, most of us have a hard time putting this kind of love into practice. Most of the time, we are lost in fantasies about love involving highly romanticized visions of perfect dates, romantic evenings, and finding a life partner who perfectly understands us at all times. We imagine love as this rush of feelings that continue to last forever. We imagine finding THE ONE – an ideal person who complements us in every possible way and satisfies our every need. The only problem with that vision is that it is false. Inevitably, our romanticized ideals about love leave us with unrealistic expectations for any partner who might come along, even if they are the real deal.

Here are 15 truths about love that we tend to forget when imagining our perfect relationship.

1. Love is a choice.

We tend to forget that feeling love for another person and choosing to love them is a choice that we make. It is different from feelings of lust which are often intense, of short duration, and involuntary. We choose to love. No one else can make you fall in love with him or her, no matter how hard they may try.

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2. Love is not infatuation.

Too often, we confuse love with what is actually infatuation. Infatuation is a rush of feelings that generally borders on obsession. Love is not an obsessive feeling. Love does not result in feeling possessive of one another. Love is a sustainable emotion. Infatuation is not. After the initial rush of intense feelings, infatuation dissipates until another possible lover is discovered; whereas love is long-lasting.

3. Love takes time.

Personally, I don’t believe in “love at first sight”. Real love takes time to develop.  Love requires trust and really knowing the other person – their character, interests, beliefs, behaviors, and deeply held core values. You can feel infatuation and lust towards someone based purely on physical attraction at first sight. But there is no way you can deeply know, trust, and respect that person right from the get-go. Love, admiration, and respect take much longer to develop and grow. With time, real love strengthens as you build trust. Love makes you feel physically safe and emotionally secure with your partner.

4. Love requires patience.

Along with time, love requires patience. We can’t love another person unless we learn to be patient with ourselves, with the other person, and with things taking time to develop. Patience is an all-too rare commodity in this era of instant gratification. We expect instant results, next-day delivery, and romances that bloom overnight into soul-mate marriages. With patience, we allow the situation to unfold naturally, without rushing, demanding, or pushing the pace. Patience requires letting go and trusting that the universe will work things out the way they are meant to work out. Patience is not trying too hard or forcing something to happen. If it is meant to happen, trust that it will work out.

5. Love takes work.

Love is a verb. Love is an action. Love requires effort and hard work to be fully realized. Love requires two people equally working at the relationship, in order for love to grow stronger. Love is not a one-way street.

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6. Love requires being present.

When we love another person, it is important to be fully present with him or her. It is extremely important to listen to what he or she has to say. Really being present in the moment with him/her and empathizing with that person when they share their story can mean the world. Listening and being present is the biggest and best gift that we can give one another. Listening, in this age of distractions, electronic devices, short attention spans, and self-centered absorption is difficult. We feel more important, respected, and special when someone really truly listens to what we have to say. Strive to be present physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Work hard to stay present without ruminating about the past, or jumping ahead to the future. After all, the present is the only true reality. The past is conjured up from memories we have reconstructed in our minds, and the future is made up of mental fantasies that we play out in our heads. The present is all we really ever have.

7. Love is kindness.

Love should never hurt. We get confused when we think that love equals dramatic up and downs, intense feelings, fighting, making up, game playing, and dramatic pushing and pulling. Yes, maybe that is how we understood love in middle school. Maybe those behaviors make for a dramatic and exciting Hollywood romantic comedy. However, in reality, mature love between adults is consistent, kind, and stable. You should feel safe and secure with your partner – both physically and emotionally. Life is hard enough without having your partner cutting you down, being critical, or belittling your character. Love builds you up. Real love is when someone treats you with kindness and respect, even when you disagree – even when he or she is angry.

8. Love for yourself is a prerequisite, before you can love another.

We can only give away what we ourselves already possess. We can only feel love towards another person when we love ourselves, fully and entirely. We often mistakenly approach relationships as this obsessive hunt for “the one” who will finally complete us, fill up the lonely places in our hearts, make us happy, and meet all of our needs forever. Unfortunately, such expectations are doomed to fail. When we look to another to provide us with everything we can’t give to ourselves, we are setting up unreasonable expectations. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on our partner and unknowingly sabotage our relationship.

Only we know what we need, want, and desire. The only person who can make us truly happy is our self. If we expect our partners to provide this contentment, they will eventually disappoint. Inevitably, we will then dump our partner and go hunt for a new one who we think will finally be perfect for us, and perpetuate the cycle. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat. It is only when we love ourselves first and foremost, learn to take care of ourselves, meet our own needs, and build our own happiness, that we will ever be truly content with another person.

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9. Love is not selfish and self-absorbed.

When we love another person, we become bigger than ourselves. We are no longer self-centered. Our circle of care expands to include our loved one, and by default, other people. When we love, our capacity for empathy, compassion, and caring grows. On the other hand, if we are impatient, if we act selfishly and demand love or demand our needs be met in a certain way or at certain time, we are not ready for real love. This dynamic can also sometimes happen in toxic relationships, where one partner is emotionally abusive to another. Remember, love requires taking care of yourself first, while making concessions and compromises for another. Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own.

10. Love is being all in.

Above all, love is about being vulnerable. It’s about taking a risk and opening up our hearts to another person who may or may not leave us, who may or may not destroy our trust and faith, and who may or may not break our hearts. It’s a terrifying proposition. Being vulnerable and exposed is uncomfortable and unsettling. Most of us shrink back in fear when we experience real intimacy. Relationships take two people in agreement to begin, but they only take one person who wants to leave for them to end. It’s an unfair truth of the universe. However, really loving someone is about being all in. There is no safety hatch where you can play it safe by being half in and half out. Keeping one foot on the gas and one foot on the break while in a relationship is unpleasant, unfair, and unkind to your partner. This hesitant kind of love makes you small, cheap, and a coward. Be brave. Be courageous. Real love requires finding someone who is worthy of your trust. Real love means giving everything that you have, even when there are no guarantees.

11. Love is never perfect.

We all have ideals regarding love and relationships. We have this romanticized fantasy that when we finally meet our person, everything will fall into place. Love will be easy, it will be fun, and we will be happy and content. Yes, healthy relationships are for the most part fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful. But that doesn’t mean that they are absolutely perfect. It doesn’t mean that either person is perfect or always acting perfectly and ideally towards the other. No matter how wonderful your relationship might be, you will find yourself feeling annoyed at your partner at times. Your partner will say some senseless comment that will deeply hurt you, even when they had no intention of doing so.

Life is messy. Real relationships are about growing together, learning together, and negotiating compromise. We have to learn to state our needs and wants in an assertive, but non-threatening and non-blaming manner. If we expect our partner to read our mind and somehow know what we need and want without us having to say anything, we are dooming our relationship to failure.

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We also have to release our preconceived notions regarding how our ideal partner will be and how it should feel. We need to be open to the experience and let things unfold naturally. We need to practice patience and self-compassion, so we can be compassionate, forgiving, and empathetic towards ourselves and our partner when they inevitably disappoint us at some point. A perfect relationship exists when two people are not willing to give up on each other. Either you accept your partner just as they are, or you let them go. Don’t fault-find.

12. Love is about being with someone you can be yourself around.

Find someone who you can relax with and feel comfortable enough to be yourself around. Find someone who brings out your best. Find someone who loves you, who likes you as a friend, and accepts you just the way you are. Any person who makes you feel like you are small, less than, or not good enough you need to run away from. Immediately. There’s this quote I love that ties in perfectly with this advice: “In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, who is constantly critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without having the person who is supposed to love you leading the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy.”

13. Love feels like deep caring, friendship, respect, and admiration for another person.

We often wonder what “true love” should feel like. Well, it isn’t as hard as we might make it out to be. Love is that feeling of deep caring, friendship, respect and admiration for another person. Love takes time to develop. Love requires getting to know someone’s character and really liking that person. Ask yourself, if you weren’t dating your partner, would you still be good friends with him/her? Find someone who you love spending time with and who makes you want to be a better person.

14.  Love can take you by surprise…

…And it often does. Love usually happens when we least expect it. Love does not happen according to our schedule. We cannot just decide one day that we are going to fall in love on Tuesday at 4:21 PM. We can’t just order love to happen at this moment in our life. We can do this with career changes, with moving into a new home, or changing our activities and hobbies we enjoy. We cannot force love. We cannot rush love. Love almost certainly will not happen at the time that you want, in the way you want, and with the person that you expect that it will.

15. Love is commitment.

Real love requires commitment by both people to make it work. There will always be other tempting options and attractive people out there. There might be the little question in the back of your mind wondering, “What if there is someone BETTER still out there?” However, real love happens when two people are ready to commit to each other. Love happens when both people are emotionally mature enough to ride the bumps, to grow, to learn and to build trust with each other, rather than always wondering if it might be easier with someone else. It isn’t. Real love requires work, commitment, patience, and perseverance. There’s a quote by Cheryl Strayed, author of the book TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, which summarizes this concept perfectly: “You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.”

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

We sometimes hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment. We might hear about the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly racing?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then we’ll look at some of the obstacles, and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Live in the Moment?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Living in the moment has innumerable benefits. Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.[1]

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and makes relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with him because we can make a much deeper connection with him.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind, and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.[2]

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

We sometimes worry when we don’t know how to deal with a problem. For example, have you ever received a letter from the IRS telling you that you owe more money than you thought, and don’t have the funds to pay it? This is enough to scare anyone who is not familiar with taxes.

How to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

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Learn How to Live in the Moment

By living in the moment, you calm your mind, and are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

Learn to Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with higher educations tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, and outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind, and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down. And an agitated mind wants to go to another place and time.

Unpleasant Situations and Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, and we can avoid them by taking our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to doing things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as eating, alcohol or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind, and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. So it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. As noted above, one thought starts an endless chain of thoughts. The reason is that one thought reminds us of something else, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function, or until we get distracted with something else.

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Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.[3]

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The news media draw our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.[4]

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful IS to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in touch with reality because the present moment is where reality is taking place.

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counter-intuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then much of our understanding will come from simply observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

You’d be surprised to find out just how much your emotions and past experiences influence your judgments. What many of us do, including intellectuals, is make a quick judgment about a person or situation, then add the reasoning afterwards. That is not logic, but rather rationalization.

When you are mindful, you reserve judgment until you have more information. Notice how I said “more information,” and not “complete information.” It is impossible to have complete information about something because there are infinite numbers of factors affecting it. So the best thing to do is be as objective as possible, and always be open to new information.

Viewing the world in this manner can be a challenge, and takes some practice to overcome years of habitual thinking. But it can make our lives infinitely more fulfilling, as we’ll be able to make much better decisions that will result in real happiness and inner peace.

So if you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your busy life to help you live in the moment, that is, reality.

You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you, and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath, and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

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You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to give your mind a rest from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts

Also, there are many good books on the market that explain the concepts and techniques in greater detail. Some examples are

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting, or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone, or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking for training yourself to live in the moment?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing. But instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable, and can really help your mind settle down.

Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. So what many of us do is try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.[5]

So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

  • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
  • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Ask yourself, “Is this what my body and mind need to be healthy, and perform at an optimal level?” “Is it sufficient, or too much?” By asking yourself these questions, you will be more inclined to make better choices in the future.
  • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

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Mindful Activities

Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander, or get distracted. When it does, then just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

Notice some of the specific movements, or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

Bonus Suggestion

Here is one activity that is not generally considered a mindful activity. It is physical training. For those of you who already workout, it may be easy to see how physical training requires you to live in the moment.

Here’s how it works:

In order to perform an exercise to get the desired benefit, you need to use a proper technique. In order to use the proper technique, you need to pay close attention to how you are doing the exercise. In other words, you need to be fully present in the moment.

Another aspect of training that helps you live in the moment is tuning into what is happening in your body. First, during exercising, you need to pay close attention to how your body feels. Are you exercising hard enough, or not enough?

There are times to go easy, such as during warm-up exercises; and times to push yourself hard, such as when you’re warmed up and want to stimulate growth.

Second, when you’re not in the gym training, you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you. What nutrients and how much do you need to consume to support your training? How much rest do you need?

By tuning in to your body, you force yourself to be in the moment. So, physical training done properly is just about as effective as meditation, or any mindful activity, for developing mindfulness. It’s also great for your health.

Final Thoughts

Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time. And this will add up to greater peace and happiness.

Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning; but I can assure you, it will get easier fairly quickly.

The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying; and when you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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