“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
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This past week, I tuned into a unique live-stream event entitled The World We Make through the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The event featured a panel discussion, which included His Holiness the Dalai Lama, looking at how we can create a world that is happy, kind and grateful and reduce the costs associated with stress-related conditions such as depression by 2030.
I was particularly taken by the positive aura that surrounded the Dalai Lama – it was something palpable despite not being physically in his presence. One of the themes he spoke about that could change the world is love. Something so simple, yet this 4 letter word brings with it life changing power.
As I reflected on his message, it instantly struck me how different our world would be if everyone had love in their life. I truly believe that this emotion can offer hope, courage and compassion which in turn can knock down hopelessness, fear and isolation.
As an interesting aside, the 14th Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of each of the previous 13 Dalai Lamas of Tibet. His gifts were discovered at the young age of 2 in a small farming village following a search party led by signs.
How to bring love into your life
I am so fortunate to feel love in my life everyday. When I walk into my home, the love from my husband, 2 children and 4 pets fills the air. I am also touched by love through other members of my extended family and friends.
We often hear of stories of people who push potential love away instead of welcoming it, mainly out of fear. In the end and in an attempt to improve our well-being, we should all try to welcome and embrace love through:
1) Self-love: So much truth exists to the notion that you can’t love others if you if can’t love yourself. We can affirm this by saying that we are perfect as we are and worthy of loving both ourselves and others.
2) Empathy: Having and practicing empathy for others opens our hearts to love. This past week, I was reminded of a must-see narrated Royal Society of Arts video, Brené Brown on Empathy, through Dr. Amalia Cochrane’s post on empathy in medical training, “Stop Explaining, Stop Talking”.
3) Vulnerability: Another huge body of Brené Brown’s work involves vulnerability and the concept that loving someone is the most vulnerable thing we can do. That is why it can be hard – what if they don’t love me back? If we choose to live in such a place of fear, we will never know true love.
4) Acceptance, Patience, & Respect: It is tough to tease out any one of these 3 because they all align with one another. We must always be cognizant that we are only human and that we have to allow for all of these in both ourselves and in the ones we embrace in love.
So how can love improve your well-being?
“Let me count the ways…”
1) Reduces negative emotions: Love not only increases our ability to cope with stress but also reduces negative emotions such as depression and anxiety. As expected, it also increases happiness, contentment and joy.
2) Helps you heal: Love improves our immune system, reduces inflammation and leads to faster healing of wounds.
3) Live a longer life: Love and life longevity have been correlated, likely due to less loneliness, and an improved support system (i.e. children).
The above listed benefits are by no means all inclusive, but instead a short list of some of the proven benefits of love to our well-being.
As we know, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson