All we need is LOVE
Given the importance of the need to be loved, it isn’t surprising that most of us believe that a significant determinant of our happiness is whether we feel loved and cared for. Most people rate “having healthy relationships” as one of their top goals—on par with the goal of “leading a happy and fulfilling life.”
While we all identify our need to be loved, many of us fail to recognise that we have a parallel need: the need to love and care for others and this desire, it turns out, is just as strong as the need to be loved and nurtured.
We fundamentally know that the desire to love and care for others is a hard-wired and deeply engrained because the fulfilment of this desire enhances our happiness levels. Expressing love or compassion for others benefits not just the recipient of affection, but also the person who delivers it.
And what’s more, it appears that even small acts of kindness generate just as much happiness as do lofty acts. In an interesting study, co authored by Michael Norton, participants were either given $5 or $20 as part of an experiment. Participants in both groups were then asked to either spend the money on themselves or on others. Those who spent the money on others, it turned out, grew happier than those who spent it on themselves. More interestingly, the amount of money spent on others didn’t make a difference to happiness levels: those who spent $5 derived just as much happiness as those who spent $20.
Michael Norton, one of the study co-authors summarises the deep-seated and universal nature of the need to love in his excellent TED talk.
So why aren't we more aware of our basic need to give love as a determinant of our happiness. Why when we are asked, "what would make you happy?" we reply "money" or "being Loved" rather than "serving others" or "giving love"?
Could the answer be we are conditioned through life, that happiness lies in being the recipient of others’ attention, love, and respect, rather than being that source of love, attention and respect.
Many of us believe happiness lies in achieving self-enhancing goals such as career success, wealth, fame, or power. The need to love and care for others, to be a source of love, in contrast, is rarely emphasised.
So why not follow some advice from the the Dalai Lama? Be selfish, be generous!
There are 3 benefits from such an approach.
1. People will typically reciprocate your generosity of spirit. Thus if you give of yourself, you attract those behaviours from others. It's Karma.
2. If you are generous of yourself and in spirit you attract others who are similar. It's the law of attraction - or as a phenomenon known as homophily.
3. And the most important reason. Because when you are generous, you are telling yourself you have enough and can afford to be generous. It makes your present moment full of abundance - it's why paying it forward is such a positive vibration on your present.
You don't need a lot to practice generosity, to be a source of love. All we need is love!
The simple act of being a source of love to someone else will benefit you more than them.