The Year of Yes, ep. 24: YES TO MORE LOVE
You may roll your eyes and want to dismiss this as a platitude, but hear me out if you can. I am not talking about the sappy stuff of Disney films and I’m not talking about the hyper-sexualized conception of love by the Western world and media.
I am talking about the “affectionate concern for the well-being of others,” that is built on the foundation of empathic, compassionate care. Empathy is the core of true connection, with other humans including your love interest, animals, and the earth.
If practiced and cultivated, this type of love can help alleviate the suffering of human existence that we all tend toward - depression, anxiety, hopelessness, existential dis-ease. Its basis is in kindness and generosity, and science shows it can even help to make your coupled partnerships last.
It’s important to remember, empathy and sympathy aren’t synonymous. Sympathy is feeling for someone, while empathy is a process that involves feeling with them.
Empathic love makes you feel calm, connected, and translates into warm and affectionate behavior. This means, physiologically, your adrenal (stress response) system isn’t in overdrive - in fact - empathic behavior helps to move your body processes into a relaxed place, where good “rest and digest” hormones take over.
Empathic love builds bridges. It leads to pro-social choices - ones that lead to not only benefitting yourself, but benefitting others involved as well. And though all of this may sound woo-woo or soft, I can assure you it won’t make you weak; you can still be a WARRIOR - a warrior who fights honestly, and wins fairly.
So, how to practice empathic love? Loving-kindness (metta) meditation practice is a great place to start. When I’m having a bad day or having a depressive or anxiety-filled spell, I direct to one person after the next the following statements silently in my head:
“May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease.”
I may do it while walking on the street, on the train, driving in traffic, at work, or in the slowww line for groceries. Try it - it’s incredibly powerful - you'll notice how your stress starts to dissipate, your mood starts to shift and a sense of greater connection starts to grow. One that reminds you, “we’re all in this crazy, beautiful world together.” 🌎