If you’re looking for love in your life after a divorce or breakup, you’re likely wondering about a rather basic question.
How do you love?
It’s a simple question, I know, but have you really thought about what love looks like? What does it mean to love someone? What actions constitute love? How do you cultivate healthier relationships? How do you open yourself to new connections and invite more love into your life?
We learn all kinds of things growing up – algebra, chemistry, even art, but not love.
You may have some twisted or unhealthy views of love.
While our parents may have tried to raise us to be productive people, they weren’t too focused on raising loving people.
If love for you was like love for me, you grew up learning that love can be painful, love can be hurtful, love can be condescending, love can be sarcastic, love can be physically hurtful and emotionally scarring.
So…if you grew up with negative views of love, found yourself in destructive and abusive love relationships, and have a skewed view of what real love is, what do you do?
Don’t get me started. You can’t take cues from the media or the movies, which have some pretty clichéd views of love and are set on selling you stuff – diamonds, chocolates, insurance and everything in between.
So, love – how do you love? How do you prioritize loving others in action? How do you nurture relationships?
Introducing: Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges (Harper Collins, 2015) by the kindest and most genuine blogger I know, Lori Deschene.
All of us who follow the Tiny Buddha blog know what a source of constant wisdom and insight it is. Lori regularly hosts regular people who talk about their life challenges, lessons learned and life how-to’s. The brilliance of Tiny Buddha is how the advice and wisdom come from our collective experiences and wisdom – not from some outsider or enlightened being. The blog reminds us that you and I are each tiny Buddhas!
In her latest book, Lori has compiled dozens of stories from people who share their experiences with receiving and giving love. She shares a story by author Vironika Tugaleve, who relates her struggle with her visits home to her critical parents. Over a conversation about a related topic of unmet expectations, Vironika shares her realization about her parents.
“I kept showing up, time after time, expecting different people to magically appear. I kept expecting that they would change…” she writes. The next time she went home, she let go of these expectations and assumptions, and found that her relationship with her parents changed. “Suddenly, I could see them for who they were. They were, and always will be, flawed and beautiful, just like me. I could suddenly smile at their criticism and laugh at their judgment.”
In one of the more touching essays in the book, Lori shares her experience of selling newspapers alongside a homeless vendor named Lou. Lori’s job was to draw attention to her and Lou with excitement and enthusiasm so that papers would sell; Lou would earn more if she sold more papers. One morning as she was selling papers, Lori had an unexpected run-in with a fashionable and trendy former classmate. The friend was planning to move to New York and audition for acting parts, following her dreams.
The interaction and Lori’s doubts about her own future and ability made her feel deflated and disconnected. She lost her enthusiasm for selling the papers for a few minutes until she looked over at Lou.
“I realized I was letting him down. When I wasn’t worrying about who I thought was better than me, I felt better about myself, did better for the people around me, and was better able to make the best of what I was doing. I could either focus on my perceived weaknesses or continue using my strengths.”
Lori got back to her job and started to sell more papers…for Lou.
Her insight: “But I suspect we worry that other people are better than us because we want to feel worthy of connection and happiness…I now know the key is to believe we are worthy – regardless of what we’ve achieved – and to act like it.”
As important as these insights and realizations from Lori and guest contributors are, the real power in the book is the 365 actions that Lori poses for us, grouped by category: kindfulness and thoughtfulness, compassion and understanding, releasing anger and forgiving, honesty and trust, and more.
Yes, 365 challenges you can start applying each and every day of the year. Use these challenges to change someone’s day, connect with someone, feel more love and be more love to the people around you.
These challenges are what love looks like.
Will you take the challenge?
Simple challenges you can do like these:
♥ Introducing yourself to a neighbor you’ve never met or don’t know very well.
♥ Saying good morning to everyone you encounter when you arrive at work, starting everyone’s day with positive energy.
♥ Write “hurt people hurt people” on a Band-Aid and stick it somewhere you’ll see often to remind yourself that the most difficult people are often in the most pain.
♥ Convey to someone that you understand their feelings.
♥ Start a conversation with someone who has a different opinion than you do so that you can practice listening and understanding someone else’s point of view.
♥ Ask someone, “How are you really?” and then listen without trying to fix things, without any goal other than being there and fully hearing them.
♥ Tell a friend, “I love that you…” and then finish the sentence with something not everyone may notice or appreciate about that person.
♥ Buy a $5 gift card and carry it in your purse or wallet to give to someone you think would appreciate it.
♥ Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary today to help you foster greater acceptance and judge others – and yourself – less.
♥ In conversations today, give up the need to be right and to prove others wrong.
♥ Tell someone the most important thing you’ve learned from him or her, and thank this person for the gift.
♥ Share something you enjoy with someone in your life.
♥ Give yourself a break. Schedule a little time into your day to simply be.
♥ Pay someone a compliment for something you believe they’re insecure about to help boost their confidence.
♥ Give a warm piece of clothing you no longer need to a homeless person, or leave it in a donation bin.
Yes, not only these ideas, but there are 350 more for you, for every day of the year.
If you don’t have enough love or connection in your life, pick up this book.
If you don’t know how to form or improve relationships with people around you, pick up this book.
If you don’t have enough self-acceptance and love for yourself, this book is for you too.
This book is more than a book – it’s your tiny love coach, inspiring you to take action every day to create a fulfilling and connected life. Don’t fall into the trap of just reading it – take some time every day of the year to practice love.
If you’re coming out of a divorce or breakup and can see this book as a tool to help you love again, drop me a note about how this book can help. Lori has been kind enough to offer a free copy of her book to one reader. I look forward to hearing from you via email and giving away a copy of this book.
To purchase a copy of Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges, click here.