Mini-Love-Lesson # 263
Synopsis: The necessity and value of developing love action habits for expressing love and for accomplishing improvements in well-being are introduced. A quick, simple, starter aid usefully presents 10 intriguing habit, love questions to ponder; some problems to avoid in being habitually loving and how to obtaining regular love actions you would like to have come your way are all helpfully related.
Love in Actions Not Just in FeelingsLove, healthy real love that is, motivates love action. Love actions are of two main types -- those behaviors that express love and those actions done to benefit the well-being of the loved. Love actions that express love are those that show, demonstrate, give evidence of, convey, communicate, and directly give love. Additionally, and extremely important are the many love actions that are done to contribute to the benefit and well-being of the loved. Included here are actions which are caring, nurturing, healing, protective, rescuing, supportive, steadfast, strengthening, cooperative and anything aimed at advancing the well-being of the loved.
Arguably, our species and perhaps all higher orders species depend heavily for their survival and thriving largely on love-motivated, contributing actions. From the love motivated care parents give their children to the love-motivated struggles for freedom, equality, and universal human improvement, love actions carry us forward.
Culturally, love feelings seem to get the most attention. Love without at least attempts at achieving contribution to well-being is much less emphasized. Historically, love feelings mistakenly have been taught to include jealousy, possessiveness, madness and a great deal of noncontributory and destructive action. Those factors, in my view, more accurately are linked to various forms of toxic, false love and lack of love syndromes (see our book Real Love False Love).
Love must be done not just felt. It has long been taught in various love oriented religions and philosophies that love feelings are good but not adequate until they result in contributory action. Many have concluded that love without action is insufficient love and probably destined to fade and fail.
Relying on love feelings without a sufficient emphasis on the doing part of love, according to some thinking, is the main reason for many love relationship’s frailty and floundering (see “Love Active Enough?”).
Action Habits of LoveHabits are behaviors that we keep doing over and over, rather automatically. Habits can be good, bad or neutral. Love habit actions can be good, in fact, very good for ourselves, for others and for love relationships. Some people, but not enough, grow up in families where the action habits of love are plentiful and effective. Here are some examples.
- With Nurturing Love, bedtime stories get read to children almost every night.
- With Protective Love, the doors get locked and windows secured time after time.
- With Affirmational Love, well merited praise and compliments flow.
- And with Tactile Love, hugs and caresses are are freely and abundantly given.
In families with good love habits, children observe, benefit and copy these habits for themselves in adulthood. Many kids, however, are not so lucky to grow up in such love-skillful homes and so they have to consciously and purposefully give attention to learning and developing these and other kinds of love action habits.
Reportedly, the great philosopher, Voltaire, taught that the most important decision you make is to be in a good mood. According to both Hindu and Buddhist teachings about real love, the most important love action you can take daily in ordinary life is to be in a good mood and give that as a gift to those you love, to those you encounter and to yourself. This practice is part of doing what is called "Mudita" love, one of The Four Immeasurable Mindsets of Real Love.
Choosing to habitually yet sincerely have a countenance that is appreciative, happy and loving in everyday life is likely to be the best gift of love you can give, over and over again for the rest of your life. It also probably is one of the most psychologically and relationally healthy things you can do – regularly. So, why not make it a habit to look for what you genuinely can appreciate and enjoy, get yourself happy with that appreciation, and then lovingly express and/or share that appreciation and joy with whoever you can – on each and every usual, ordinary day. On extraordinary days, there may be a need for compassionate love, or adamant love, or serene love and, of course, for other things like work, duties, rest, etc. (book reference Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh).
A STARTER’S AID TO DEVELOPING AND IMPROVING LOVE ACTION HABITSBelow are 16 questions aimed at helping you start your own survey of love habits you might want to consider developing. Each question introduces an action that can be related to a habit for expressing or doing love. These questions can be more for pondering than for definitive answering, if you wish to use them that way.
1. When greeting loved ones, do you commonly, lovingly touch them and, if so, how might you improve that love-giving experience?
2. When starting to talk with someone you love, do you quickly make and maintain good eye contact and have a loving, interested look on your face?
3. As you talk with someone you love, are your tones of voice usually pleasant and/or caring?
4. If a person you care about is upset, do you almost always listen with care more than you talk?
5. On most days, do you gift your loved ones with a countenance of positivity, pleasantness and joy?
6. Do you regularly and readily give experience gifts, do favors and act to assist friends and others you care about?
7. Is it your habit to show up and stay with loved ones in their times of crisis, difficulty and stress, as well as during their times of celebration and/or victory?
8. Frequently, do your words often offer sincere affirmation of the worth and quality of those you care about, uncontaminated with criticism or laudatory self-reference?
9. Do you often spend time thinking about how to show or do your love, learning about love and/or discussing love relationship improvement issues?
10. Do you linger in times of closeness and extend your time with loved ones, enjoying just being with them and listening to whatever they want to talk about?
There are literally thousands of other similar questions to the ones you just read. Those 10 are just to get you started thinking on developing your habits broadly. You might want to make up some more love action habit questions of your own.
Some Love Habit ProblemsNothing is perfect and so it is with love habits. One issue is, can you be okay with the knowledge that no matter what love actions you do there are some people who can see them negatively? They may misperceive, misunderstand, misinterpret, be of a generally critical mindset, or just be having a bad day and be making everything negative. It helps to remember that whatever negative reaction others may have, that likely tells you more about them than you. Your job, with the help of healthy self-love, is to stay okay and give a balanced critique of their criticism or reaction to see if it might have any use. It is healthy self-love to not give your power away to other’s negations and that also is an action that can be done habitually (see “Self-Love -- What Is It?”).
Another problem with love habits can be that we may do them so automatically that we do not consciously think much about them once the are established. Therefore, it is good to purposefully re-examine them every so often to see if they need some adjustments, improvements, etc.
Insincerity, perceived or real, is another issue with things done habitually. With that, can come loss of love-action-impact or effect. Even love, when done habitually for too long, can seem just perfunctory. For that reason, putting in variations of love-habit behavior can help a lot. Examples are longer/shorter, softer or more vigorous hugs, cuddling with differing caresses, or just stillness and closeness, kisses delivered where they have not been delivered recently, words of love said more intensely or whispered, etc. Almost all love habit actions can be infinitely varied and still habitually delivered.
Getting the Love Habit Actions You Want?Are there love actions you want consistently and repeatedly given to you? Perhaps you hunger for more regular I love you statements, or kisses on the back of the neck, or laudatory statements made about you in front of your family, or … whatever. What you want may indeed be something you need for full and healthful functioning. In our wants are often hidden our needs. So, we must ask the question “what are you doing to get your wants/needs for love action habits to be in your life more”? Is there something in the way of your straight-forwardly asking for what you want? Perhaps you were taught it is too selfish to directly ask for love, or love is somehow spoiled if you have to ask for it, or some other of the anti-love and love sabotaging trainings in the world.
There are many of them. If so, please work to ignore them. It is honest and efficient to take the guesswork out and just ask for what you want. It is best if the way you ask is clear, exact, behaviorally descriptive and requested in loving, cheerful, self-confident tones. It is good to add that you are willing and wishing to hear whatever the person you are talking to might also want (see “Asking For What You Want -- with Love!”).
One More Thing PleaseSome of those who talk over these mini –love-lessons with others, report getting additional benefit out of them. Maybe you will too. If so, please remember to mention this site and our many free mini-love-lessons, and thus, maybe spread some healthy, love knowledge around.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Quotable question: Are not actions and achievements that contribute, far more worthy than actions and achievements that don't?