Love… The ever illusive word that carries multiple definitions. If I were to ask what does love mean to you, I would have countless answers. In some way, I can imagine that most of the answers would sound the same. But, what is love really?
Is it that feeling I get when I give family members or friends a hug? Perhaps it’s the one that I get when I lock eyes with someone who can see into my soul. It may be the waves of emotion that hits me when I look into someone else’s eyes and see their life story as my own. It may be that rapturous moment that occurs when you realize just how much a part of this world you are.
Love may seem like an abstract subject, however it is very easy to pick up on tangible acts of love when you see them in the world around you.
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I recall a story I heard on NPR’s Radio Lab recently (a fantastic show), on a program entitled The Good Show. It was a discussion on Altruism and whether or not it stems from a genetic survival function or if it hails from a more divine place. My favorite account from the program was an interview the hosts conducted with a gentleman who, in a moment of emergency, leapt out onto a subway rail line to protect another man who had collapsed onto the track after suffering a seizure. Without hesitation, he lays his body protectively over the other gentleman’s body as the oncoming train rolled over them. Not only did he show love by putting his own life at great risk, leaping out to save a stranger, he also trusted the love of others, leaving his child (safely) in the hands of the other bystanders in that critical moment. When asked why he did it, he replied that something told him that he was the one to save the other man, and that everything would be alright…
You have to trust in something… your gut, destiny, life, Karma… whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart… even when it leads you off the well-worn path. And THAT will make all the difference.” – Anonymous
This example reminds me that love is ultimate, unbiased, unlimited acceptance of all things. We don’t always like the things that we love, do we? In fact, as the train-station hero proves to us, love is universal. We show love total strangers! We love life itself. It is a universal impulse, deeply coded within us. We may even find that we have a certain degree of compassion and acceptance for those very things that we don’t care for at all. Perhaps the well of love compassionate acceptance is unlimited – if we allow it to be.
When we accept and act on love, unbounded, it gives us an opportunity through which we can accept the whole truth of those around us, and ourselves. It offers us a bigger opportunity for self awareness – to see our strengths through the eyes of experience, and accept our own imperfections and limitations with the same compassion we feel toward others. We see that we are both capable and worthy of love.
So… What is your definition of love? When was the last time you truly expressed love? Does the love in your heart extend to your self?
Can we really love ourselves without true self awareness? What does it mean to be self aware?
I know who I am. I have a name, an occupation; a social security number. I know what the world expects of me and I know what boundaries not to cross. Do these things really make us self aware? Or does that make me aware of the outer world?
We come into this world with our limitless curiosity and a wealth of untapped gifts. True self awareness is having the courage to honestly discover those gifts; to explore who you are, to keep improving on what you find, and to accept and love yourself with compassion all that you find inside.
Have you ever looked deeply into your own eyes in a mirror? There is a moment when you realize that you are looking into you. For some, it can be very confronting as we catch our own attention and begin to recognize the space that we occupy. Questions start to fill our heads, sometimes questions that can make us somewhat uncomfortable. We may start to notice perceived flaws. And we turn away…
Self Discovery Exercise
I challenge anyone reading this to do one simple exercise for 60 seconds. Look yourself in the eyes and keep your attention for one minute. Connect with your Self. Make it an honest 60 seconds too!
Was that easy? Go for three! Why not four?! You’d be surprised what you learn about yourself by just doing that. You’ll begin to pick up the subtle things that matter. Be sure to pay yourself a complement and say it out loud. Be honest. You’ll know if you’re lying to yourself.
What was the exercise like for you? Did you find it confronting? Did you find love in your own eyes?
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About the author: Emmanuel Thelamour is a writer, artist, Masters student and founder of a website for artists, writers, philosophers, lovers, and all who enjoy exploring the beauty of the living condition. Emmanuel’s goal is to advocate for truth. He believes that in taking an honest look at what really matters, real lasting change can be accomplished. Through Exceptional Truths and The Misunderstood Project, he seeks to inspire hope for the hopeless and to build opportunity for honest dialogue about the welfare of our world. You can connect with Emmanuel at ExceptionalTruths.com and Facebook.com/ExceptionalTruths.