“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action.” M. Scott Peck
We often confuse many of the warm and/or powerful emotions we feel with love itself. The feelings associated with love can be a reflection of our love or, as is often the case, not really love at all, but our attachment to someone or something. In either case, the feelings we associate, either correctly or incorrectly with love, will come and go while love itself can remain. We can actually love people we don’t like very much, we can love people whom we don’t agree with, and, of course, we can love people whom we do like and enjoy being with. As today’s quote points out, love is an intention and action that springs from a heartfelt desire that you and others are able to develop your highest potentials, becoming genuinely happy.
There is a problem which lies in the common practice of confusing attachment with love. As we mentioned earlier, when others make us feel good, we can mistake our feelings for them as love. However, if we investigate, we may find that instead of being an unconditional love that truly wants the best for the other, it is actually a feeling of “love” contingent on how they make us feel. When they stop doing the things that make us feel good, or start to treat us in ways we dislike, our “love” can turn into resentment and even hatred. Instead of being love, it is really an attachment to the good feelings that arise in us when others behave in ways we like. It is this attachment, confused for love, that creates an incredible amount of suffering in our lives. Interestingly, because of this confusion, while it may seem that it is easier to love the ones we like than to extend our love to those we don’t like, that is not always the case! To help us better understand the distinction, instead of thinking of love as just a feeling, it might be helpful to recognize the action of love, such as getting up in the middle of night when we don’t want to in order to help another. It may not feel good at the moment, but may be a more accurate reflection of the degree of love we have to share.
Today I invite you to reflect upon the difference between attachment and love. Throughout the day do your best to identify the acts of love around you and engage in as many as you can as well. It might even feel good! – John Bruna, April 18, 2016
The above is a an excerpt from one the daily emails sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community. I invite you to explore our community and consider joining.