The concept of love is arguably the most complex of human experiences, yet so painfully simple. Love is the very reason we suffer, and the very reason we continue to make ourselves vulnerable. Love can take many forms and there is multitude of expressions of love. Love can be both irrational and logical, and it is the fundamental emotion that propels most of our decisions in life. Love is what fuels all other feelings, whether it is anger, sadness, joy, happiness or fear.

Love is the Grand Poobah of all emotions and there would be no fire or intensity behind all other feelings without love providing the underpinnings. If we did not have love we would just be indifferent to everything and there would no significant interaction with others, no appreciation of nature or music, or any passion surrounding our work. I believe that experiencing love is the only reason life really matters.

All You Need Is Love (video)

Love is not just one thing and humans express love through communication, overt actions, non-verbal demonstrations, spiritual communion, and our interaction with pets. Let’s take a deeper look at this human phenomenon and the many ways in which we express love.

Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.- Franklin P. Jones

One of the first forms of love is through communication, where we translate our inner thoughts into words. Saying “I love you” to a spouse, partner, friend or family member is an outright expression of appreciation for that person. The intonation that we place on “I love you” may vary, but the underlying denominator is respect. Saying “thank you”, “please”, or “you’re welcome” are milder forms of expressing love and still carrying the implicit communication of respect for the person being addressed. We may often and freely say the words I love you to the people that are closest to us, but you can make a big difference in the life of, for instance, your landscaper, drycleaner, coworker or neighbor by giving them a heart-felt thank you or telling them how much you appreciate them. Every message in which some love is communicated is likely to leave a lasting impression.

Some people express love better through overt actions rather than words, perhaps because they have trouble with being vulnerable or are just very shy by nature. More subtle demonstrations of love suite this type of personality and they embrace the old adage “actions speak louder than words.” Expressing love through actions shows a commitment to demonstrating our feelings even when words are difficult. The giving of little gifts, calling to check in with your friend when they are sad, or graciously listening to your spouse are all ways of showing love and appreciation.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched- they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

Another powerful expression of love is the non-verbal kind, such as when we gently reach out to touch our spouse’s hand or give a kind pat on the shoulder to comfort a friend. Non-verbal expressions of love can simply be the look in your lover’s eye, a quick little wink and an open-hearted embrace. Non-verbal love can sometimes be construed as unconditional love because we often are not asking for anything in return.

Loving Older Couple 2

Transformational expert and best-selling author Marci Schimoff writes about her new approach to experiencing a lasting state of unconditional love. In her book Love For No Reason, Marci speaks to the kind of love that doesn’t depend on another person or situation. She speaks of the kind of love that comes from deep within us, a love that we generate ourselves and can bring us lasting joy and inner fulfillment. Unconditional love that rises out of our ability to BE love is the highest form of love we can experience.

Let’s not leave out the love that we have for the creatures of this Earth. Our affection for our furry animal friends is a primitive form of love that goes back thousands of years. Humans first started keeping dogs as pets around 13,000-30,000 years ago, originally as a way to ward off intruders and offer protection.  In modern times, we buy or adopt dogs because we can love them freely without worrying that they will ask too much of us or see our weaknesses. No matter if we are sad, silly, tired, jubilant or crestfallen, our loving dogs will always be there to snuggle by our side and offer their unconditional love.

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Love. What is your language for expressing love? Do you shout “I love you!”, prefer to show love by actions, or adhere to the more subtle non-verbal gestures of love? Whichever method you choose, please allow love to fill your life and the life of those around you.

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