My mentor and coach Lance Secretan says “… that love is to the soul what oxygen is to the body.” Clearly, we all want love. We all need love. We all give love. We all receive love. Love fuels our body and mind. Science has confirmed that when humans are deprived of love, we wither like an un-watered plant. So how might we grow love in our life and perhaps even make it a constant presence?

This post was inspired by my coaching experiences where it seems some coachees have an outsized dependence on the love they get from an intimate partnership. As a result, when that partnership dissolves, they feel deprived of love and often feel the need to hastily jump into a new intimate relationship.

What would it mean if we knew love was all around us? Not only with intimate relationships, but with friends, acquaintances, or even strangers? How might we reap the benefits of

more love for ourselves and for the benefit of those around us? I believe we can experience these benefits by expanding our concept of love.

Let’s look at an expansion of love by starting with the word itself. Unlike the English language which has only one word for love, Sanskrit has 96 words for love, Persian has 80 and Greek has 6. In these languages, love is clearly more than what we might typically feel for a person or two, so perhaps the English language has contributed to placing limitations on our concept of love?

Consider the six Greek words for love:

  • Agape, or love for everyone
  • Eros, or sexual passion
  • Ludus, or playful love
  • Philautia, or love of the self
  • Philia, or deep friendship
  • Pragma, or longstanding love

When I discovered these Greek words for love, it really helped me to open my heart to more love. It allowed me the freedom to express more love and to receive more love. For example, with my deep friendships, my paradigm changed to knowing that my friends’ care and concern for me can be internalized as love, and when I care for them, I am projecting love. It was a powerful and energizing paradigm shift. But I think the most important shift was understanding that love is everywhere if we are willing to give it and feel it.

”What does it mean to love?” Todd Rundgren asks this question in his song titled The Verb “To Love”, from his 1976 album Faithful. I love this song. As I’ve contemplated the question in the song, I’ve come to realize that it’s difficult to give love without first opening up our hearts to love. And that starts with loving ourselves. Loving ourselves reduces our need to unconsciously grasp for love in the wrong places.

To help navigate the path to an expanded concept of love, I recommend two books that I feel are incredible guides to giving and therefore receiving, more love: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and LOVE 2.0 by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Gary Chapman, in his now classic book, articulates five guidelines we can use to open ourselves up to more love. These five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch and Quality Time. This book is a treasure trove of wisdom about love and a wonderful guideline to learning these languages of love. Following the recipe that Mr. Chapman lays out is a surefire way to elevate love in your own life by giving that gift to others. And these love languages can find expression in any relationship, not just intimate relationships.

In LOVE 2.0 we find deeply researched science that tells us love is critical to a healthy physiology and being a better version of ourselves. And lucky for us, Ms. Fredrickson tells us that the love we crave is available to give and receive in many of life’s briefest moments and encounters, if we are open to it.

It probably isn’t a big leap for most of us to see a cuddle with our pet as an exchange of love. But how about the exchange of smiles as you pass by a stranger on the sidewalk? What about the exchange of pleasantries with the staff at your favourite coffee shop? Ms. Fredrickson calls this “positivity resonance” and “micro-moments of love.” I’ve taken the following from Chapter 2 – What Love Is: “That’s because within micro-moments of love, your own positivity, your own warmth and openness, evoke – and is simultaneously evoked by – the warmth and openness emanating from the other person. This shard positivity gets further amplified by the synchronized changes in biochemistry that course through your bodies and the attention you each show the other – the smiles, the leaning in, your verbal and nonverbal expressions of care and concern for each other. These are powerful, energizing moments. Your body was designed to harness this power – to live off it. Your ability to understand and empathize with others depends mightily on having a steady diet of positivity resonance, as do your potentials for wisdom, spirituality, and health.”

Circling back to my friend and mentor Lance Secretan, he illustrates how important love is to all of us by describing this experience he has had in many of his workshops: “I often ask the audience to raise their hands if they agree with this statement: ‘I welcome more aggression, machismo and swagger in my life.’ No one raises their hand. Then I ask, ‘Who would like more love in their lives?’ Everyone raises their hands.”

My path to expanding love is an ongoing but wonderfully beneficial journey. As a typical socialized male in our western culture, it’s taken courage to say the words more often or even do something as simple as put a heart emoji in a text message. But as Todd Rundgren says, “It (love) doesn’t mean a thing without some action behind it.” But as I put more effort into expressing, demonstrating, recognizing, and internalizing love, my life and health has improved exponentially.

I’ll end this post with Lance’s words, “We can become more conscious individuals who are not afraid to express, and demonstrate, our love for others because it inspires them and everyone else – not the least ourselves.”

When you think of what is important in your life, where does love fit in?

What actions can you take to insure you are loving yourself enough so that you can love others and receive their love?

How can you consistently remind yourself to recognize love, create love, open up to love, and internalize love throughout your day?

With loving kindness,
Coach Billy