How to Make Life Work
The more I think about love, the more I realize that love is THE big deal. The desire to love and be loved is THE primal urge we all share. We require love as much, though in a vastly different way, as we require food, air, and water. Without love life is devoid of meaning. Life is not life without love. The more you love, the more you let yourself be loved, the more alive you are.
We all want to experience love, to know that we are lovable, and to give love to someone else. These are our basic desires: to be connected, to be known, to be accepted, to be safe, to be happy, to be successful, to be free. This is the stuff of love, and love is the stuff of life.
We all know this at some deep, mysterious level. And yet....
Very few of us have actual conversations about love. The Beatles sang about it. So did Stevie Wonder. And Michael Jackson. And James Taylor. And Joni Mitchell. And...well...pretty much everyone on the radio. You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. I look around me, and I see it isn't so. Our favorite authors and poets -- our favorite movies and TV shows -- they're all about love.
So, why don't we teach this in school? Why don't teachers talk about love? Why don't politicians? Why doesn't love make the nightly news?
We tell our kids that we love them, but we don't tell them what love is or what it looks like.
Love is necessary. It's non-negotiable. Evolutionary psychologists say it's a basic catalyst of growth at a cellular level. When children are loved, it influences their DNA, helps their nervous systems develop, helps their brains develop. From the moment you're conceived -- perhaps even before it -- until you draw your final breath -- love helps you grow.
When I remember the basic truth that I am lovable, I evolve in the direction of love. When I choose love, I prosper. When I give in to my most fundamental fear -- which is the idea that I'm unlovable -- that's when I stop growing in the direction of love.
Love is my purpose. Love is my destiny. And when I make love my chief pursuit, I don't have to make myself into somebody; I can be who I already am. I can stop trying to make myself into someone lovable; I can be myself. I can be the lovable person I am. I can be love. That's what's supposed to happen, but then I get distracted by fear and take a detour and end up lost.
And so it is time for me to turn to love again, so I can be saved -- so I can continue loving and being loved. I must.
Life is all about love, and even when it isn't, it is. Love is what you're on about, even when it seems like you're on about something else. Yes, we all get busy -- chasing a career, paying the mortgage. It's hard not to get caught up in the daily grind. Laundry. Oil change. Groceries. Get the kids to school on time. Soccer practice. Or lacrosse. Mow the lawn. Take out the trash. Hit the gym. Sunrise. Sunset. Swiftly fly the years.
And then something happens. The birth of a child. The death of a parent. A divorce. Or just a walk on a beach with a full moon. You walk into the water stark naked and suddenly you come to your senses, and it's like this fundamental part of you that has been asleep for years wakes up, and then you remember: Love is your purpose. Love is your passion. Love is your salvation. Nothing else matters. Love is first; everything else is a distant second.
The more you love, the more you grow.
The more you love, the healthier you are.
The more you love, the happier you feel.
The more you love, the more you succeed.
Conversely, not loving enough and not feeling loved -- not feeling lovable -- these are the root causes of every problem and every conflict and every monumental screw-up I've ever experienced.
The bottom line is: My life works when I love, and it doesn't work when I don't love.
The real work of my life is to know how to love and be loved in return. That is the purpose of life -- for me and for you and for all of humanity. Real prosperity isn't about dollars and cents. Real success isn't about titles and corner offices. Life isn't about ego-gratification or making yourself bigger, smarter, or more powerful than someone else. None of that is real. All of that is trivial pursuit.
If you want to make life work, love. It's as simple as that.