What is love?

February is considered the month of love if for no other reason than it is the home of Valentine’s Day – the one holiday that reminds us to do something special for the ones we love. But love is one of those words in the English language that is used to describe how we feel about many different things. We love our friends and family, we love our pets, we love our homes, we love that outfit that makes us look skinny, we love that one pair of shoes, we love a particular sports team, we love a certain restaurant or type of food, we love our favorite band or musician, we love certain movies or TV shows, we love…you get the idea. We use that one word to describe a strong affection for people, places, things, and memories.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Do you love your family the same way you love that one pair of shoes or your favorite band? Most likely not. Yet in the English language we use the same word to describe how we feel about all these things. Is it any wonder that we have trouble communicating clearly about how we feel?

Conversely, in the Greek language there are numerous words that mean love. There’s a distinction between, for example, love of a spouse, love of a parent, and love of a friend. Makes it a bit easier to be clear about your feelings when there are words that help differentiate the degrees or levels of love that exist.

With only one word to describe our love for someone or some thing, how we express that feeling becomes extremely important. How we show it and let it manifest itself in our lives makes a big difference. And because we all live such busy lives we are not usually consciously aware of how we express ourselves, in love or otherwise. Hence this week’s meditation questions. It’s important to periodically take time out to think about how we interact with others and express our feelings toward them, whether those are feelings of love, friendship, etc.

One of my favorite books is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The basis premise: We all have a dominant way in which we express love and we tend to want to receive love in that same manner. The problem is we all express love differently, so the chances of other people in your life “speaking” the same love language as you are pretty slim. And so we need to be able to identify and talk about how we express and receive love. Likewise we need to learn which love language those who are important to us speak, and work to meet them there. It’s not about a right or wrong way to express love, it’s about understanding the different ways we all do so in order for us to be more successful in our relationships.

Bottom line – Take the time, at least every once in a while, to stop and reflect on how you allow love to manifest itself in your life. Consider if you are on a path you are happy with or if it is time for a little adjustment. But above all, as this week’s quote reminds us, enjoy those tiny moments with that special person who brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart.