Appreciating Those We Love

Love is free to give, and priceless to receive.

“If you admire somebody you should go ahead tell ‘em/People never get the flowers while they can still smell ‘em.” Those lyrics, from the song Big Brother by Kanye West, encapsulate the timeless truth that our love for one another can never be vocalized enough, because one day the option of whether to do it will no longer be ours.

If that notion feels morbid, think of it like this: There’s pretty much no better feeling than being made aware that your presence, your spirit, is thought of so highly by another that they’re compelled to recognize it to your face, right? Now realize that each of us has total control of the initiator side of this “adulation equation,” and we can choose to add love to someone’s life whenever we want.

With this in mind, the question becomes, why aren’t we constantly sending gratitude messages to those we care about? What’s stopping us from basking in the love of the world by basking in our love for each other? If we all enjoy being on the receiving end of these acknowledgements, why don’t we give each other that gift more often?

Are we jealous of others who receive love, so we avoid giving it? Are we subconsciously hoarding love for ourselves? Are we too self-absorbed to be bothered to look at the bigger picture? Have we simply never pondered this question?

Whatever the specific mental block is that’s hindering us as people, an effective method to knocking yourself out of any self-centered mode (something we all battle within ourselves) is to picture a specific person whom you admire, and then project your mind to a point in the future when they’re no longer around. The feeling of finality that accompanies the awareness that someday you’ll never say anything to that person again can then be used to motivate positive action in the present moment.

Once again it should be noted that this isn’t supposed to read as melancholy, and in fact should be seen as useful when it’s recognized for what it really is: a reality check that life as it is now will not be the way it is forever; our circumstances often shift before we’re ready for change, and frequently it happens in unpredictable ways, meaning the best we can do is maximize what we have while we can.

So, for anyone who now wants to begin spreading more love, the path forward is simple: start today, and make it into a habit. Choose someone you appreciate deeply – it’s okay if this person hasn’t done anything specific to assist you lately – and just send them a quick text or email that affirms to them that your life is better for having them in it. Depending on what type of day the receiver is having, there’s a fairly good chance that you’ve just given them their highlight. And for those who are motivated by self-interest (everyone, to varying degrees), the receiver’s jovial response may turn into a highlight for you too!

While this sentiment of spreading love is obviously well tread territory, the key is to repeat the process enough that it becomes second nature. Thus, the path to habit formation simply requires delivering a bit of daily love to the people for whom you already feel it most; after all, love isn’t one-and-done, it’s over-and-over.

If you’re still having trouble getting started, keep the end in mind, because one day we all come to realize how temporary everything was. Stress less on the content of the message and focus more on the act of sending it; the words we present don’t have to be lengthy, they don’t have to be detailed, they just need to be a flower someone can smell.

Love is free to give, and priceless to receive.

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