When I talk about love, I am not writing about the love that Nicholas Sparks writes about. I am not writing about romantic love, finding your soulmate love or make out in the pouring rain love. No doubt that is something I will get to in due course, but I am more referring to love as a way of living, seeing and being. It sounds simple and cliche, but put into practice, seeing with love and living each day from a place of love is a pretty radical and challenging notion.
Whether I am driving, watching TV, reading a magazine, on social media or browsing the web, I am met by a stream of advertising and content that encourages me to look not for love, but lack. To see all the things that are missing from my life, and the ways in which I am apparently flawed and inadequate. You need this special cream, this new phone, this body, you need to be this kind of person. Whether it is in terms of my relationships, health, appearance, career, skills, money, material goods or just who I am as a person, the prevailing message is “not good enough." In this kind of culture, love almost becomes an act of rebellion against the system. I imagine it is very hard to make a person feel inadequate and fall for marketing bullshit if they are operating from an unshakable heart of love.
Living from a place of love is not only a game changer for advertising, but it is also transformative for every other facet of life. It means feeling acceptance and joy for what we already have, rather than wishing for something different, finding something to criticize, or feeling like something is missing. It means looking at the people around us (and perhaps more importantly, ourselves), and rather than seeing their body, clothes, social status, occupation, wealth (or lack thereof), sexuality, gender, ethnicity, skills, interests, opinions, disabilities or what you know of their past, just seeing love. Just feeling love.
I write this like it’s easy, and in some areas of life it is. When my friends, family or partner are wonderful, it’s easy to be and feel loving. If all the traffic lights are green, work is good, what I need is on sale, the sun is shining, fantastic. The love goggles are on. But let’s be realistic here, life isn’t always like that. There are humps and bumps and the goggles fall off. It’s moments when my family or partner is driving me up the wall, nothing goes to plan, someone is rude, something goes wrong, something breaks down, or I feel unworthy. That’s when cultivating a loving heart is a heck of a lot harder, but probably most important.
It often requires an entire rerouting of my inner GPS, my default mode of perception. A decision to pause, hit Control Alt Delete, and reboot the whole damn system. I say decision, but this is not one choice on a Monday morning and suddenly we are on the same level as Ghandi. This is a million microscopic decisions day in, day out. I am happy to admit that I am an amateur at love, and given that advertising is hard to avoid, circumstances and people are always changing, and life loves to throw curveballs at us, I probably always will be. But I don't feel disheartened by this. Instead, I see it as a lifetime of opportunities to practice.