Actions always speak louder than words, and there is no better place to apply that than our concept of love.
To most people, love is a passive verb…something that happens to us rather than something we do on purpose. It’s a special feeling that we have about someone or something that comes and goes without our control. We say you can’t choose who you love, and we either love someone or we don’t based on the feeling.
But let’s consider love as an active verb…something that you do intentionally, like exercising. In this context, love is more about how you show it, how you allocate your time and effort towards it.
For example, if you actively love your work, then it will show in how much time you spend at your desk or on the phone. Each project will show your thought and consideration far more than if you were just going through the motions for a paycheck. Your commitment to the work will also show as a high priority compared to other options for spending your time.
If you actively love your kids, then it will show in how engaged you are in their lives, how much time you carve out of your day to spend with them, and how much of your focus you devote to them during that time.
If you actively love your partner, you act as a member of a team. You consider your partner in the decisions you make throughout the day, and you do whatever it takes to honor the agreements you have made to each other even when they become inconvenient. You find birthday gifts that show you’ve been paying attention, and you speak the truth even when it’s uncomfortable.
At my house, I actively love the dogs by always having raw food in the fridge for their meals and making the time every other weekend to trim the nails on all twelve paws. I have actively loved my historic house with 10 years of repairs and cosmetic renovations, and I actively love my garden by pulling all the weeds and spreading mulch. I also bask in the feeling of love when I sit on the patio admiring the springtime blooms and when I’m buried in dogs on the couch, but when I say I love someone or something, that means I will not only bask in the feeling when it hits me, I will also do what it takes to develop and maintain it.
The choice to behave with love is most important in the challenging moments. For example, when being completely honest or honoring your agreements to the letter becomes uncomfortable or inconvenient, many will choose to justify the shortcoming and hope that the relationship will survive. On the other hand, stepping up with the truth and then changing your habits so that you are no longer compromising your word is a great way to show that you value the relationship and the person on the other side. These acts of love take the greatest amount of courage but they also make the biggest difference.
“I love you” is the highest expression of devotion that we have. We are all excited to hear it, and we all assume that it will be followed by the highest display of devotion as well. We all have our reasons, our justifications for not putting forth the extra effort and showing our purest version of love. But if you make it a habit to see love as an active verb, an intentional choice from one moment to the next, then you can start backing those words up with more powerful actions.
Try this…the next time you start to say “I love you” change it to “Here’s how I loved you today…”
Time to transcend! This blog series is intended to challenge you by reaching beyond the status quo. If you are feeling resistance, consider that your ego is coming forward and presenting you with an opportunity to grow. This is where the magic happens!