“We confuse attachment with love. Attachment is concerned with my needs, my happiness, while love is an unselfish attitude, concerned with the needs and happiness of others.” – Kathleen McDonald
When we love someone, we want the best for them. We want them to be truly happy and flourish in life. As simple and straightforward as this seems, as we explored a few days ago, love is often confused with attachment. Instead of loving others, we frequently “love” the people that make us feel good or help us in some way. The good feelings become confused with love, but are usually dependent on others making us feel that way. In essence, we become attached to good feelings we have with others treat us in ways we find enjoyable and think of this as loving them. Really it is loving what they do for us. Unfortunately, this is always a limited love that is prone to disappointment when others don’t live up to our expectations and desires.
Today’s quote reminds us that loving-kindness is not a self-centered attitude, based only upon our desires, needs and values. It honors all others and recognizes that they, like us, have value and deserve an opportunity to cultivate genuine happiness in their lives as well. As such, it is not dependent upon attachment or limited by our our biases. As we develop and cultivate loving-kindness in our hearts and minds, our attachments fade and our ability to appreciate and love others grows.
It is always important to note that having loving-kindness for others does not mean we condone the harmful activities of others. There is nothing loving about that. Instead of promoting happiness and beneficial activities, it undermines them. Loving-kindness allows us to address the unhealthy behavior and activities of others in skillful ways, focusing on their behaviors, not their value as a human being. Just as a loving mother may set boundaries or have consequences for their children, it is always done with the motivation to help provide the best for them.
I invite you to notice your interactions with others. Do they come from an attachment or selfishness or, are they unselfish and ultimately, mutually beneficial? – John Bruna, April 23, 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.