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Dog Love Is Real Love !

Mini-Love-Lesson #206

Synopsis: The exciting, new, and not so new, scientific evidence offering proof that dog’s love is real love put simply, some of the many and often surprising benefits of a love relationship with a dog, and what you can learn about real love from a dog and a dog’s love is summarily presented.

Canine Love and People

Time again in my psychotherapy practice, I saw love of and from a pet, mainly dogs, make a huge, sometimes life-saving difference.  Sometimes a depressed and lonely person getting a dog turned the tide of a deteriorating life into one moving up and forward.  Frequently in treating hurt and troubled children, a pet dog and its love proved to be amazingly therapeutic.  Many times getting a canine pet, especially a puppy, greatly aided parents and whole families become more love-oriented.

Pet dogs in the lives of the postwar trauma and disabled veterans, who I and my colleagues treated, was often crucial.  Some couples I worked with first learned some of the most important how-to’s of love from their pet dogs.  In divorce and love-loss recovery, dog love has been vital in preventing breakdowns, suicides, addiction relapses and countless hours lost to depressive malfunctioning.

But of course there are the disbelievers who say dogs really can’t love only humans can do that, and there are those who are quite sure that for dogs it’s just all about food.  There are the skeptics who ask, “How can you can really prove dogs can really love” and they say to dog lovers “Aren’t you just anthropomorphizing and seeing what you want to see?”  Plus, they ask, “Where’s the definitive evidence?”

Also from health insurance companies has come similar ideas justifying denials of services for canine assisted psychotherapy.  And that is even though increasing numbers of research studies have appeared which show how much it helps.  In fact, a whole movement for canine assisted counseling and psychotherapy has blossomed into existence.  I’m familiar with a number of therapists involved in pet assisted therapy.  They tend to claim, sometimes only secretly, that it is the love relationship between the patient and the dog that makes the therapeutic difference.  However, they have avoided reporting so officially because that isn’t thought to be acceptable in certain circles of professional influence.

Of course, for ages dog owners have proclaimed they absolutely know their pets truly loved them and they truly love their pets.  Countless true stories exist about dogs heroically saving their masters and even members of their master’s family’s lives.  Sometimes even after experiencing great pain and injury themselves.  But was it really because of love?  Well now, thanks to the brain sciences, we are beginning to have solid, science-based proof that dogs give and get real love.

The Brain Sciences and Dogs Who Love

It took a while to teach the 90 subject dogs to be still in MRI machines to get their brains scanned, while half received food in one experimental trial condition and half received verbal love messages in another.  One hypothesis was the data from the dog’s brains would show high activity indicating they valued the food in the reward centers of their brains far more than the verbal love sounds coming to their ears.  It was surprising to learn that for many dogs the two proved equal; the food did not elicit a greater response and wasn’t superior.  But in a significant number of others dogs, the neurological brain activity measurements proved the verbal love messages and sounds to be much more rewarding and more important than the food.  So, for dogs, receiving a verbal, behavioral love input was shown to be equal to, or superior to receiving food.  More brain science research on dog love is continuing at Emory University under the direction of neuroscientist Dr. Gregory Burns.

Other findings have showed that dogs can recognize and differentiate their master’s face from other human faces.  When they make this recognition their brains light up much like humans do, from infancy on, when seeing someone who they share a love relationship with.  It has long been observed that dogs go more quickly to their masters who exhibit loving behaviors including just loving facial looks.  These dogs also then begin to give actions of affection to their loving masters.  This strongly suggests that the limbic system brain centers that process love and the neurochemical reactions of processing love are likely to be much the same in humans and dogs.  That is exactly what the research evidence is increasingly pointing to.

Now, as we begin to scan inside the dog brains, we are beginning to see amazing similarities in how dogs and humans psychoneurologically process love.  The brain activity evidence shows that the neuro-electrical and neuro-chemical events in the limbic system of dog brains react much like a humans does when getting and when giving behaviors commonly associated with love.

Consider any two living beings having similarly structured brains.  When in the brains of any two such living beings, the same regions of their brains react the same way neuro-physically, neuro-electrically and neuro-chemically; and also when their accompanying, observable behavior is much the same, there is a most logical interpretation to be arrived at.  That interpretation is it is only reasonable to conclude that those two being are processing (i.e. mentally experiencing, thinking/feeling) much the same thing.  This exactly is what is proving to be true with dogs and humans interacting with each other while exhibiting the behaviors commonly associated with love.  Thus, the preponderance of this growing body of evidence points to dogs love being real love.  We are not likely to get much better evidence for this conclusion until someone invents a real way to actually do the Vulcan Mind Meld.

What Does Animal Comparative Psychology Have To Say?

The psychologists who compare the actions, reactions and interactions of animals with the same in humans are not at all surprised at the kind of results or conclusions just mentioned.  Not so long ago, the great comparative psychologist, Dr. Harry Harlow, proved that to baby monkeys receiving mother love was more important than receiving food.  Some infant monkeys even would starve themselves to death preferring to receive loving contact comfort from a mother surrogate rather than give that up for acquiring needed food.  No one expected that result and when it was discovered that part of the experiment was altered so infant monkeys did not have to suffer further starvation.

Harlow also discovered that baby monkeys who did not sufficiently receive the behaviors that give love in infancy and childhood were never able to successfully mate or healthfully interact with other monkeys.  This was true until they were given monkey therapy in the form of being lovingly treated probably by graduate student lab assistants.  Just like with human babies, non-loved and little-loved monkey infants were prone to early death involving failure to thrive deterioration syndromes.

It is to be noted that at the time of that research few researchers using animals thought that love, or for that matter most psychological factors, had much of anything to do with animals’ physical health and survival.  Consequently, it was Harlow’s discoveries which led to a revolution in the improved treatment of lab animals and after that zoo and circus animals; and the effects of those love findings are still spreading.  Human infants already were receiving much better love behavior treatment because pediatric research had discovered the same thing Harlow did with lab monkeys.  His famous research book is Learning to Love .

Now through comparative psychology’s efforts, along with neuropsychologists and other neuro-scientists, we have learned what looks like a very important general truth.  That truth seems to be that all higher order species, and especially mammals, have brains that make similar, healthful responses to the behaviors that are associated with giving and receiving love.  Therefore, the evidence more and more points to many animals, including dogs and humans, being able to give, get and do real love.
Hence, the preponderance of available evidence points to what dog owners have always known.  You really do love your dog and your dog really does love you.  It is a real love relationship and it can do you a world of good to have that love relationship.

The Many Benefits of Loving and Being Loved by a Dog

When you have a good love relationship with a dog, your stress hormones are likely to be lowered as is your bad cholesterol.  Your neurochemical reactions which allow and help you be happier will be much more active, and your immunity mechanisms will work better at keeping you from getting sick or infected.  The relating you do with others is likely to be more love-oriented and more effectively responsive.  If others see you with your dog, they are likely to be more positive toward you than they might have been.  Playing with and walking your dog will get you more exercise.

If danger is around, your dog is more likely to become alerted to it before you and then may alert and save you from some dire occurrence.  If you are ill or wounded in some way, having your pet dog around is likely to help you heal faster and maybe heal better.  If you are recovering from injury or engaged in any other kind of recovery and rehabilitation, it is much more likely to go better as you keep lovingly interacting with your pooch.  Psychologically, a love relationship with a good pet dog often acts like a good antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication with no bad side effects.  On and on go the benefits; we don’t have space here for all of them so far discovered.

Learning Love from Dogs

Once long ago, as a scout with other scouts, I was in a large wigwam listening to an ancient Lakota Indian wise woman tell of how the great spirit put dogs into the life of humans to teach us how to love.  It seems, according to that wisdom filled legend, we were not all that good at love until the dogs taught us how.  They taught by example of love’s loyalty, caring concern, forgiving nature, playful affection, protection focus and a host of other ways love gets demonstrated.  So, I suggest you look to your pet dog to model for you some of the best ways love gets done.  Translate what you see into human behavior.  Then see if you can do as well at love as your pet dog does.

Now one more little thing.  You might want to share this mini-love-lesson with a dog lover you know or with someone you think might do well to have a pet dog.  Also you might want to check out this other mini-love-lesson, “Pet Love”.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Do you give much thought to how much more enriched your life is or may become because of “interspecies love”?

Can Your Religion Help You Love Better?

Heart surrounded by various religion symbols

Mini Love Lesson #296

Synopsis: Here we are urged to take a look at what various religions have to say about love and its doing, so as to make our own doing of love more effective.  Religious teachings on love are recommended as a great source of wisdom, although with some cautionary considerations.

Most of the major religions have a lot to say about love.  What religions have had to say about love has probably helped more people than psychology, philosophy, literature or anything else.  Religious leaders of many faiths have given love a great deal of attention, contemplated love often, taught much about love and written many words concerning love.  Most of that was in an effort to help us understand love better and do love well.  Therefore, what religions have say about love is well worth considering.

Hinduism and Buddhism share The Four Great Immeasurable Ways of Love which have helped countless millions live more loving lives.  Judaism offers the foundational law of love by proclaiming love your neighbor as yourself which has been an outstanding guide for thousands of years.  In Christianity, St. Paul uses 16 terms to tell us how to do and not do love in his famous “love chapter” in his first letter to the Corinthians” which is read at more weddings than any other Bible passage in Christendom.  In Islam all 114 Sutras (chapters) of the Koran begin with a stress on Allah’s most merciful and compassionate love which followers are to emulate in their lives.  In Taoism, Lao Tzo taught the first great treasure of all treasures is love, and to courageously attack with love, and be secure in love as the strongest of defenses.  Confucius put forward that the main guiding principles to live by is that of loving others which meant to care about and secure the welfare of those we love.

In studying what religious sages and leaders proclaim about love, we can see a common thread appearing.  It is that love must be done not just felt.  For love to have any effect, love actions must be taken.  For love to work any of its wonders, loving behaviors must be accomplished.  For love relating to occur, love must be conveyed and sent repeatedly.  For love success to be the result, doing love actions skillfully and frequently is essential.  All that suggests love is to be studied behaviorally, practiced behaviorally, improved behaviorally and frequently used behaviorally.

Whatever your religion, you can focus on what it says about love and probably learn some very helpful things to do which will make your actions of love better.  If you have no particular religion, that suggests studying them all may be helpful.  You can also do that if you are rather ecumenical and open to learning from them all, or at least more than one.

Do be a bit careful.  In actual practice the followers of many religions have not abided by their own faith’s teachings about love.  In fact, they have done quite the opposite and sometimes even have become the proponents of hate, indifference and what can be called anti-love behaviors.  Hence, the potential for being led astray does exist.

Studying what religion has to say about love has aided an enormous number of people in doing love better, being better at relating with love and from love, and in forming love connected relationships, better than they would have otherwise.  Religion could be, if it hasn’t already, be the fine source for learning to successfully, broadly, deeply and wisely enrich your dealings and doings with love.

One more little thing: Why not talk over this little love lesson and its ideas with someone else?  That might help you learn a lot more from it and from them too.  If you do that, please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: What do you think of the dictum “To get an abundance of fine love, give it in abundance and do it as skillfully as you can – often”.

Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life

Synopsis: Jocelyn’s ‘no real love’ problem; Repeat failures; A dozen great ‘how to’s’ for getting the real thing; Love as a happy, habit and getting zestful about it.

Jocelyn came to me after a speech I had given on the dynamics of healthy, real love saying, “My problem is getting what you call healthy, real love.  Several times I thought I had the real thing but it turned out to be false.  Dr. Cookerly, what can I do to get the real thing?”

Jocelyn and a great many other people wonder about the same thing.  If you are a person wanting to know how to do this here are a dozen ideas that may be of considerable help.  First, know there is an all over principle.  You had better take the subject of love seriously and use your mind as well as your heart to achieve love success.  Lots of people don’t take love very seriously until they have a love relationship disaster.  Then they may take it quite seriously.  Others fail at a love relationship but never seriously look at understanding love itself, or the ‘how to’s’ of succeeding at love.

Consequently, they are likely to repeat their failure.  Like every other important subject success is far more likely for those who really study, learn and practice the ‘how to’s’.  So, if you really want to succeed at love more than you have so far look over the dozen ways that may help you achieve that success.  Here’s a ‘get started’ suggestion.  Go over this list and pick out only one or two items to begin on.  Then really work at them and perhaps get those you care about to do the same with you.  If you do this  I’m betting you’ll be really happy you followed the suggestion.  After that you can go on to other items in the list and probably achieve even greater love success.

How to’s for Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life
1.  Learn What Real Love Is We have two kinds of learning to consider.  ‘Experience learning’ and ‘Cognitive learning’.  They work well together.  Think about who has loved you best: parents?, siblings?, family?.  Maybe you have been best loved in your life by a dear friend, a pet dog or maybe grandparents.  How did they deliver love to you?  What did that feel like?  Whoever loved you best has provided you at least some ‘experience knowledge’ of love.  When you were born somebody loved you well enough to keep you alive because without at least some love a baby dies in infancy.  That means at some deep level you have some ‘experience knowledge’ of love.  With work you may be able to tap into that and raise at least some of it into conscious awareness, and that can help guide you.  Easier, but still requiring some work, is to ‘cognitively learn’ and purposefully study what is known about healthy, real love and how it is done.  To help you with that go to “The Definition of Love” and related entries, elaborations and discussions in the left column on this page.

2. Learn About False Love Study what are seen to be the major forms of false love and how to differentiate them from real love.  There are a great many ways people get into false love situations.  False love often results in enormous emotional pain and destructiveness, sometimes even leading to death.  To help you get healthy, real love review the mini love lessons on “False Love” in the Site Index, and pay particular attention to the entry “A Dozen Things Love Is and A Dozen Things Love Is Not”.

3.  Learn and Practice the Eight Major Ways of Directly Doing Love A great deal of research effort in social psychology went into discovering the ways people give, communicate, deliver and send love.  Out of this came a clear understanding of eight groups of behavior by which love is done in all types of love relationships.  You can learn and practice these ways and by doing so probably greatly improve any love relationship.  To do that I, somewhat egotistically, recommend you read part two of my book Recovering Love where these ways are covered in some detail.  Also consult the Site Index for “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”.

4.  Learn and Practice Healthy Self-Love The ancient commandment is to “love others as you love yourself”.  Without sufficient, healthy self-love most love relationships with others suffer.  One can take the eight major ways of doing love mentioned above and apply them to oneself usually with great benefit.

5.  Get Good at Giving Love Essential to getting love is giving love freely, often and much.  Healthy, real love is a free gift that tends to grow the more you give it away, especially when it is combined with healthy self-love.  Actively go looking to wisely give love wherever you can while at the same time being open to getting love.  Don’t just wait for love to find you.  Go after it and as you do keep giving it along the way.

6.  Repeatedly Mix Romance, Sex and Affection With Your Lover-Love For ongoing, couple’s type love it’s best to have ongoing romance, sex and affection and repeatedly mix those into love-mate relating.  To help you with this you may wish to check out the love and sex related mini lessons in the Site Index, such as “Lasting Sex and Lasting Love”, “Men Doing Well at Love”, “Can You Talk About Sex with Love”, “Do You Want to Say Love When You Mean Sex”, “Making Love or Having Sex”, etc.

7.  Engage in Spiritual Love Practices Search for and find your own best way of relating to and with love spiritually.  Whether it is with standard prayer, oceanic awareness of the universe, the awe and wonder of nature, practices that help you feel connected to life and your fellow humans, respect for the mysteries and unknowns of existence, or regular religious observances, finding a way to connect love and spirituality within you is often marvelously healthful.

8.  Ask for What You Want, With Love Sharing your wants with a loved one is a way to share yourself.  Not sharing your desires, wishes and requests keeps those you care about in the dark needlessly guessing, emotionally distancing you both, and frequently leads to mis-perception, mis-interpretation and relational abrasion and dissonance, along with possible destruction of the relationship. It also keeps you from getting what you want, and within your wants are usually hidden your needs.  Check out this site’s entry on asking for what you want, “Love Complaints vs. Love Requests”.

9.  Be Love Assertive You have three choices.  You can be submissive, aggressive or assertive.  Submissive surrendering may get you treated nicely but it’s just as likely to get you abused, sacrificed and destroyed.  At best it relies on charity.  Aggression means to attack in an attempt to hurt, harm and destroy in an attempt to make yourself the winner and someone else the loser.  Assertion, especially assertion with love, means to put yourself (your thoughts, feelings, actions, desires, etc.) forward preferably done in a way there are no losers.  Assertion provides the ‘I win, you win’ possibility especially when love is added.  Therefore, assert all your ‘stuff’ with love.

10.  Become Good at Receptional Love When anyone does anything that might be an expression of their love for you receive it well in such a way that they see you really got it, then digest it, enjoy it fully, and be nurtured by it.  Do not dodge it, deny you merit it, or in any way negate it.  To receive love well is a gift to those who love you.

11.  Amply Reward Your Lovers (mate, kids, parents, friends, etc.)
To get love in your life, freely and amply reward any and all love and love-like actions that come your way. Also reward those you would love for their ways of being themselves, their achievements and what they take joy in.  Praises, compliments, return expressions of love, hugs, pats on the back, doing favors and hundreds of other actions can be ways to reward.  Especially do this when there are actions of love demonstrated toward you.  Rewarded, real love behaviors tend to increase real love.  This often is not true for various forms of false love.  Reward often and show your love both in your way and in their way.  Check out in the Site Index the entry “Love in the Fridge”.

12. With Joy Study and Practice the Ways of Love Ever More Make learning about love a happy habit.  Then, full of good heartedness, take more pleasure in practicing what you have learned.  Healthy, real love done well can make people joyous.  That’s true for both the giver and getter.  So get into the joy of love, learning how to do it ever better.  Delight in learning by teaching – which is one of the best ways to learn, relish every love and love-like action that you deliver to others and that comes your way.  Get zestful about all love learned, showed and shared.

There’s lots more but this much can be used to get yourself further along love’s rich and incredibly rewarding path.  Remember the scriptural quote “The greatest of all things is love”.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Of the above 12 points which one grabs your attention the most, and what is that guiding you toward?

Adamant Love - And How It Wins for Us All

Mini-Love-Lesson #205

Synopsis: The reader is introduced to Adamant Love and its marvelous force for winning against all manner of difficulties.  Adamant Love, it’s purpose, role in achieving victories, force for defense, role in repair and recovery, and empowerment of achievement along with a few drawbacks and its amazing greatness are discussed.

The Love You May Not Know About Yet?

You most likely have heard of Passionate Love and Compassionate Love but do you know about Adamant Love?  It is the form of love that provides the amazing power to save, protect and defend your loved ones and your love relationships against all that threatens to harm them.  Not only that, it is Adamant Love that empowers us to strive long and hard to achieve love’s great accomplishments for the well-being of the loved.  I capitalize Adamant Love to emphasize its importance throughout this mini-love-lesson.

It is Adamant Love that can inspire heroic efforts and prevail against all odds, surmounting even the greatest of difficulties.  Whether it is rushing into the burning building to save loved ones, or working tirelessly for decades to find a cure for a loved one’s illness, or just faithfully standing guard to ensure the safety of the loved, it is Adamant Love that has been known to save the day again and again down throughout history.  It also is Adamant Love that causes those who love to bravely sacrifice and endure much on behalf of those they love.

The Purpose of Adamant Love

The purpose of adamant love is to concentrate, increase and channel love’s power toward meeting the challenges involved in the fulfillment of one, or more, of love’s major functions.  Those functions are 1) to connect us, 2) to nurture us, 3) to protect us, 4) to heal us and 5) to give us the many reinforcing rewards which come with both feeling and doing love (see “A Functional Definition of Love”).

The Many Victories of Adamant Love

Think of the immigrant parents who cross the desert, the sea or the jungle to get their children away from danger and to the chance of a far better life.  How about the friend who endures the repeated pain of giving bone marrow transplants so that his best buddy may live?  Contemplate the countless lovers who have had to break off their relationships with their disapproving and condemning families in order to be together.  Then think of the countless poor parents who struggled for years to put all their offspring through college.  The examples of Adamant Love and its many victories number in the millions.  And, of course, there are the tragic and ever so painful defeats.  But there again, it was adamant self love, along with other love, that motivated rising from the ashes to try again, and yet again, and not let defeat win out.

Adamant Love empowers another type of victory.  Adamant love flows strongly and consistently in those whose love is altruistic, humanitarian, beneficent and focused on worthy causes involving justice, democracy, equal rights, defending those too disadvantaged to defend themselves and the like.  Adamant Love also can be found to be powerfully flowing forward in those who work prodigiously in the advancement of the arts, science, nature, constructive education, positive religion and those advancements and achievements which help us develop to higher levels of healthful living.

Adamant Love in the Service of Defense

It must have been Adamant Love that gave rise to the saying “never get between a mama bear and her cub”.  That represents a truism, that many loving parents of higher-order species will adamantly do just about anything it takes to protect their young.  That also is true regarding defense of  mates, and families and larger groups of a good many species, including humans.  For love of country, or clan, or tribe, or family, or spouse, or offspring or even pets, Adamant Love fuels and pushes all sorts of different, complicated and sometimes very long-lasting guarding, protecting and defending behaviors.  Adamant Love brings bravery, steadfastness, willingness to endure pain and risk harm and sometimes even life itself in defense of the loved.

Adamant Love in the Service of Repair and Recovery

A lot of repair and recovery from illness, injury, stress, strain, drain and addictions takes a long time.  Therefore, those who love someone who is working to repair and recover must oftentimes stay in their assisting roles for long periods of time.  Sometimes they must endure hard challenges, setbacks, discouraging prognoses, slow improvement and all sorts of other problematic factors.  If it were not for the flow of Adamant Love empowering their ability to doggedly and determinedly keep at it, a lot of loved ones would not repair or recover as fast, as well or even at all.  Then there is the agonizing questions of knowing when to quit and how to recover from the draining effects of loss and failed efforts.  That is when healthy self-love applied adamantly can be so useful in the recovery of loving helpers.

Adamant Love in the Service of Achievement

A family goes in together to start a new business.  Another couple agrees that one of them will work while the other goes to school for a professional degree and then they will trade places.  An individual in healthy self-love gets determined to escape his or her dire circumstances and make a better life.  Another individual becomes dedicated to helping others via becoming a health professional.  As they work toward achieving their sundry goals, roadblocks, reversals, unexpected difficulties other serious problems may arise.  With the difficulties come questions.  Who will survive and achieve their goals and who will be defeated?  Where will the power to surmount the difficulties come from?  Will those in love relationships last intact or will those relationships become seriously damaged or destroyed by defeat?

Couples who share strong, Adamant Love, families with mutually committed and supportive Adamant Love, friends functioning as comrades with mutual, Adamant Love and individuals with Adamant, healthy Self-love are the ones most likely to persevere and achieve their goals.  Without sufficient Adamant Love they all are more likely to give up sooner, be less creative in problem-solving and have and provide less of the energy required to achieve success.

I saw this time and again when treating recovering addicts, their mates and their family relationships in a tough love, addictions recovery program.  It required tremendous, Adamant tough Love for spouses and family to stop trying to help in ways that ended up harming their addicted loved ones.  They did this harmful helping out of compassion for their intensely suffering loved ones by trying to rescue them in ways that almost always backfired.  It was Adamant Love that enabled them to stick with the program of saying “No, I won’t help you in ways that harm you anymore”.  Later it was Adamant Love that helped the addicts stick to working their own programs of achieving and maintaining recovery.

I also have seen the Adamant Love of several of my therapist mentors and colleagues achieve great and amazing healing successes.  I will mention just one.  This therapist worked for six years, frequently on his own time, to help a mute child who had been horribly, parentally abused by repeated cutting, hot iron branding and continual starvation until being rescued by child protective services.  The child was considered hopelessly psychotic.  This very loving therapist adamantly would not give up on her.  In her fifth year of treatment, with a raspy voice, she whispered her first words which were “I love you too ”.  Progress was rapid after that and today, years later, she is, amaze amaze, a nurse at a children’s hospital.  Such are the miraculous victories of steadfast, Adamant Love.

It is indeed Adamant Love that can provide the toughness necessary to meet the challenges of hard to accomplish achievement.  When we adamantly love, we often discover a river of power within us that enables us to, sometimes creatively and often surprisingly, attack problems, break through barriers and remain dedicated while others would surrender to the obstacles.  It is Adamant Love that provides the muscle when muscle is needed for “winning the day”.

The Drawbacks of Adamant Love

Adamant Love can have some drawbacks.  It occasionally can assist us in being too stubborn, too narrow of focus, and too exhausted and depleted for our own or anyone else’s good.  Adamant Love can be confused with destructive, obsessive-compulsive dependency and fear-based, relational attachments whose bases are not in love but in insecure feelings of personal inadequacy or sometimes malfunctioning neurochemistry.  Nevertheless, Adamant Love’s attributes far outweigh its drawbacks and deficiencies.  It is Adamant Love that motivates taking stands and moving us to conquer the anti-love and love-negative forces that may hold sway in our world.

The Great Dynamic of Adamant Love

Think of a mighty river and the many ways it can flow.  It may flow placidly across the plane, or leap and tumble through rapids, or cascade over high falls, or just roll mightily on as a great force of nature.  The river is love and Adamant Love is one of its many ways of great and forceful flowing. This form of flowing love is not to be confused with more static terms like kinds of love i.e. romantic , family, true friend, self, etc. or types of love i.e. altruistic, companionate, unrequited, spiritual, etc..  All those categorical concepts have their value.  However, they do not lend themselves to revealing much of the dramatic dynamism and powerful, varying dynamics of Adamant Love. Adamant Love is seen as a naturally flowing, powerful, systemic forceful form which the River of Love can take on.

Adamant Love is not much written about or researched but we think the reader may agree there is much evidence that it exists as the basis of many of love’s most heroic and astonishing victories.  Throughout human history, Adamant Love arguably is the dynamic form of love most responsible for and involved in many of human kind’s greatest achievements.  It is the flowing form of love for which the words resolute, steadfast, tenacious, undaunted, valiant, stouthearted, lionhearted and heroic are most applicable.  Along with compassionate and passionate love, Adamant Love is seen as worthy of considerable attention and cultivation.  When life gets really difficult, it is the great, forceful form that love takes which time and again, and against all odds, wins the day.

Now, here is my suggestion.  Talk over this mini-love-lesson and its ideas with one or more others, and while you are at it, maybe recommend this site to them.  Remember, “love feeling is natural, love doing takes learning” so help spread the love learning.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: In what area of your life might it be wise for you to get more determined to apply your love adamantly?

Understanding Friendship: From Mild Geniality to Profound Love

Mini-Love–Lesson  # 203

Synopsis: How friendship is defined, understood and valued differently in different countries, cultures,  the importance of your own valuing of friendship and doing more about it are presented here and more.

Friendship Seen Differently Here and There and Elsewhere

Internationally friendship is understood in a number of rather different ways in different countries, cultures and societies.

There also are quite a few different definitions and connotations to the words friend and friendship in its various translations.  Not only that but in different social classes, strata, diverse subcultures and societal spheres, friendship is viewed and valued quite divergently.  All of these variations of meaning can be seen as contributing to an all-over enriched understanding of friendship.  These differences, however, also suggest it is best to be careful when dealing with the subject of or engaged in the activities of friendship, or trying to comprehend exactly what other people mean when they use the words friend or friendship.

Defining Friendship Differently

It is kind of amazing how differently various sources have defined friendship.  One source says it’s just “a mutual association of those who like each other”, another says it’s people who feel attached to one another by feelings of personal regard and fondness” and still another says it’s “a relationship of those who grow emotionally close to one another and who have a mostly positive mutual appreciation and therefore feel attached, linked or at least somewhat bonded and in union with each other”.

Other definitions use terms and phrases like “mutuality of affinity”, “ having ongoing rapport”, “enjoy each other’s company”, “repeatedly interacting pleasurably” “people you feel more good than bad about”, “those who treat you nice”, “people who you hope like you”, “those acting in mutually beneficial alliance” and more cynically and hopefully as a joke “anyone who doesn’t want you dead”.

I have heard it taught among the Sufis who have been emphasizing friendship since the year 900 or so that “a friend is someone who helps you know yourself with love”.  Aristotle, who had a fair amount to say about friendship, noted that “a true friend is one who likes who we are and wants what is good for us”.

A Three Level Understanding of Friendship

Concepts about friendship can be analyzed as indicating it is a phenomenon occurring on at least three different levels.  Here they are called Mild, Significant and Profound and are explained as follows:
Mild Friendship: a relationship between those who at least mildly like each other, who at least mildly enjoy being in each other’s company and mildly but pleasurably have at least some ongoing, occasional interactions with each other.
Significant Friendship: a relationship between those who mutually emotionally feel fairly closely and positively connected, are mutually trusting, have a fair degree of shared values and interests, have some mutual intimate and personal knowledge of each other, are mutually concerned about each other’s well-being and who mutually have a mostly positive effect on each other and who find importance in their relationship continuing.
Profound Friendship: a relationship of healthy and usually sibling or familial like real love.  In addition, those whose relationship manifests a sense of mutual, deeply felt, meaningfulness along with intimately personal and privately shared knowledge, a sense of being strongly bonded with attitudes of unconditional acceptance, non-condemning, all forgiving, intense loyalty, mutual appreciation, respect, and affirmation, dependability especially in troubled situations and involving people who are solidly committed to each other’s well-being and their relationships continuation.
These three levels can be seen as a existing on a continuum of sequential degrees going from more or less mild to more or less profound.  Some analysis suggests it would be appropriate to add a fourth category of Friendly Acquaintance mostly for those who have briefer or only occasional friendly interactions with each other.  In analyzing friendship, others suggest additional situational categories are useful like “work buddy”, “good neighbor”, “school chum”, “comrade-at-arms” “internet pal”, “Facebook friend”, etc..  Additional terms like best friend, fast friend, bosom friend, confidant, crony, sidekick, etc. also may be useful in seeking a full understanding of friendship.

The Varying Valuing of Friendship

In some parts of the world, you would not use the word friend for someone you had known less than two years nor would you invite them to your house before then.  In other parts of the world, one can hear oxymoronic statements like “hello, old friend, what’s your name?” probably stated by someone being artificial with something to sell.  Among still others, ending a friendship is commonly more significant and impactful than ending a marriage.  Then there are those for whom the word friendship privately means a relationship conducted for selfish benefit and easily ended for the same reason.

Among health professionals and psychological researchers, friendship is increasingly being seen as highly contributory to health, well-being, happiness and especially to longevity.  Of course, this means friendship closer to the Significant and Profound levels.  Rehabilitation and recovery specialists count real and deep friendships among the most important factors effecting their patient’s return to health.  Even Mild friendships, as described above, have been found to contribute substantially to the physical and psychological repair of the wounded, injured and otherwise impaired.

Research also is showing that those who do not value friendship and friendship love significantly or sufficiently enough are much less engaged in friendship actions and consequently are more susceptible to killer stress illnesses, substance abuse problems, severe love-life difficulties and workplace non-cooperation and passive/aggressive resistance.

Intriguingly there also is foreign affairs research showing that the more international friendships citizens of a country have the more a country tends toward peaceful and cooperative relations with other nations.  The reverse also turns out to be true.  The more people of a country do not cross borders and befriend dissimilar people the more suspicion, hostility, non-cooperation and international dysfunction there is likely to be with that country.

Likewise, and contrary to much of the past, there has been a recent joint call from major leaders of six of the world’s great religions for developing worldwide, cross-faith friendships.  This worldwide call is aimed at producing a reduction in cross-faith religious bigotry, hostility and violence.  Those inter-faith and internationally minded clerics ask us all to escape our insular provinciality and work at befriending those not only different from us religiously but also socially and culturally.  They postulate doing so will lead to joyfully discovering more about our positive similarities than our disharmonious differences.

How Is Your Own Personal Valuing of Friendship?

Generally, the more you value friendship at all three levels but especially the deeper Significant and Profound levels of friendship, the more you will do about it at all three levels.  Because of that, the better off you likely will live and probably the longer you will live, the healthier you will live and the more enriched your life will be.  So, how are you doing that at all three friendship levels?  Do you think you do enough about your friendships, making new friendships, developing friendships further and what about your friendship with yourself?

One of the things a person runs into when studying friendship and friendship love is this.  Again and again from lots of different places lots of different scientists, authorities, experts, sears, sages, teachers and wisdom masters cry out for people to see how important friendship is to individuals, families, societies and the well-being of our whole world.  They all urge us all to study, think about, talk about, more highly value and then do more about friendship.

So, the challenge is for you to do some more about friendship in your own life.  You, of course, can continue studying friendship as you are doing right now and then you can add your own friendship actions.  Whether it is locally, refreshing current and old friendships, connecting on the Internet, reaching into different communities, reaching out internationally or becoming a part of answering that call for creating interfaith friendships across the world, you can do some things you perhaps have not done yet, but could.  Remember also, that doing more about friendship is a great, healthy, self-love action because you are one of the ones who gets enriched along with the others you connect with in friendship.

Want More to Help You with Your Friendship Life?

To learn more about what you can do for more and better friendship in your life, you may wish to consult the following Mini-Love-Lessons Friendship Love and Its Extraordinary Importance and Friendship “Like” to Friendship “Love.

For making new international friends, check out Friendship Force International which has local groups in over 300 communities in 60 countries around the world, headquartered in Atlanta Georgia USA and also you might look into the International Friendship League with members on five continents, headquartered and quite active in the UK but also around Europe, Africa, India and Asia where they also have contact centers.

For a more in-depth understanding of friendship, here are some books you might want to consult: Love and Friendship by Allan Bloom, Friends As Family by Karen Lindsey, Friendship: How to Give It, How to Get It by Dr. Joel D. Block, The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis and Friendship by Martin E. Marty.

Maybe make a better friend by telling them about this mini-love-lesson and this mini-love-lessons site?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: What are just 2 acts you could do before 2 days pass that likely would benefit another’s and your friendship life?