love is an operation, not a word.

Walking my four legged loves over the past three mornings I listened to an amazing and thought provoking podcast by Neil & Leslie Pasricha talking to THE Brene Brown. Now, I have, for the past ten years, inhaled Dr. Brown’s work and still this podcast (long – thus the three days split) brought out sides of her and her personal story I had not heard of and ideas that continued to challenge my thinking and my ways.

One of the ideas I knew of but felt really good to hear of again was the idea of making love operational, not leaving it as theory. As Dr. Brown well exemplifies, when we tell our family that we love them but we never make time for them, we don’t prioritise meals or time spent together, we don’t listen actively and we are not present with them, it begs the question, what is this “love” we are professing?

Listening to this made me think of “glass-door” moments and this story Dr. Brown recounts in her books and talks. She tells the story of a gentleman who is home for the evening, getting ready for bed. He is tired, has had a tough day at the office and can’t wait to just crawl under the covers with his great book and a cup of tea. He is in his bedroom, his wife is there as well, she is in front of the mirror. He is unbuttoning his shirt and crossing the room to go into the bathroom when, in the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of his wife’s expression reflected in the mirror. She is sad and looks like something is weighing on her mind. Now, she isn’t aware he noticed this. He is TIRED and really wants to get to that book. This is a glass-door moment, this is a moment when operationalising love comes into play. Does he go on to the bathroom and pretends he didn’t see anything (and won’t be held accountable for it because she has no idea about what he saw) or does he stop and sit down next to her, look at her and ask “what is going on honey?” ready to be there, listen and hold space. The difference between professed and operational love is this small action – stopping in your tracks for someone you love.

It has become quite a habit these days that many use the word love as many times as possible trying to forge connection to an audience, they family, their friends. So many times we are tricked into thinking that love is these grand gestures, spending lots of money for a gift, recognition on social media, for others to see and like or envy, compromising until resent sets in. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Love is operational or it does not exist. Love is embedded in those ordinary moments when you decide to give of yourself right there and then because you see a need in the other to be loved (in whichever way that is manifested). Love is making time, paying attention, looking in each other’s eyes and leaving the phone as far away so as not to even feel it vibrate. Love is eating dinner together, being honest with each other and conducting conversations with positive intent in mind. I love this quote around joy and I feel that it can be so well extended to love.

If we look at movies to show us the measure of love, if we count the likes of a post to deem a moment in our life important or not, if we always expect to receive and almost never think of what we can give, we are setting ourselves up for immense disappointment and will never experience or be able to share true love.

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