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The idea of love, in this day and age, is overused and misused greatly. We no longer understand what it is, what it entails, or how to love. Some confuse it with “lust” when it is romanticized, and imagine that falling in love is the same as loving the other person. But this is often far from the truth; those who fall in love seem more obsessed about “having” the other person in their lives, and “getting” his/her attention, that they are rarely loving the other person. Instead, they are trying to satisfy their own needs.

Others see love as a great sacrifice, and being a good “victim” equals being a great lover to them. Since love is forgiveness, patience, and a bunch of other things, many distort those notions into allowing others to run over them and disrespect them.

And some others just think that love hurts. In reality, what hurts are actions from others that have nothing to do with love. For instance, if their partner cheats on them, then love must hurt… or if their partner rejects them or is not compatible enough (and can’t satisfy their needs), then once again, the conclusion must be that love hurts.

But love is neither one of the above scenarios… at least not in my mind. Love is the greatest force in the universe, and it becomes alive with actions, rather than with feelings. The more you practice love, the better you get at it. It’s like mastering a musical instrument: at first it can be intimidating, you need a lot of patience and perseverance, and you must spend countless hours practicing it before it becomes natural to you (but it might never stop being challenging). Like a musical instrument, when you stop practicing love, you start forgetting how to do it.

Another good way to put it is comparing it to air… air is necessary for us to live, but if we don’t breathe it, then it does nothing for us! The same happens with love, it is always there, but unless we do actions of love (to love) then it does nothing for us.

To love doesn’t hurt, but we are humans and desire good things for ourselves. It is the rejection, the lack of compassion, the anger, and the negativity that we receive from others that hurt us (because we want to feel special and loved). When these things are done by someone we admire, appreciate, or really love, then many of us tend to conclude that love must hurt. A faulty logic, if I may point out.

So… what is love? And how do we love?

Love is the good energy in the universe, the goodness, compassion, care, and respect there is available to give to others and ourselves. To love then, is to be compassionate, caring, respectful, and good toward others and ourselves without expecting anything at all in return.

This is just my philosophy of love in a general sense… of course, when in a relationship, it becomes a game of satisfying each other needs (hopefully with love), but that is another subject.

But then what? Why should we love when so many times others mistreat us?

Well, although to love means that other people will benefit from this (and sadly a lot of people won’t deserve it), you love because ultimately love is what makes anyone in this world a real better person. The more you love the better person you will become. You don’t need to depend on others to be good, to act good… you need to find your own worth, love yourself, and love others because you are that special and that capable of giving love.

And no… you don’t need to start acting like Mother Theresa or Gandhi. Start small, but keep steady. It is hard to become a better person, but it is worth trying.