What does it mean to live in love? With it being Valentine’s Day I can’t think of a better topic to discuss!
The Harvard Grant study is the most extensive study that’s ever been done on the human condition. With an investment of $20 million and more than 75 years, this study tracked the physical and emotional health of two groups: 456 poor people in Boston and 268 graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944.
What researchers found after investing all of that time and money was simple, yet profound: happiness equals love.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to be happy. Well, happiness only comes from love! Here are five ways to help ensure we are living in love.
1. Feed Your Brain a Love Signal
The human brain has a control mechanism called the hypothalamus and it has three settings - success, failure or status quo. It’s just like hardware on your computer. The hypothalamus controls the types of thoughts, feelings, actions, hormones and brain chemistry that impact our well being.
The success setting is activated when the hypothalamus picks up a love-based signal and all those feel good peptides, oxytocin and runners’ high type hormones kick in. Remember the first time you fell in love? The world was rosey and you were excited to wake up in the morning! We think it is the other person, and it is, but it’s really your brain and nervous system picking up a love signal!
If the hypothalamus picks up a fear-based signal -- anger, low self worth, sadness, unforgiveness, etc. -- then it flips on the failure switch. You’ll experience the negative thoughts, feelings, brain chemistry and hormones and typically negative actions that accompany this. If it doesn’t pick up either one of these signals then you are just sort of neutral.
What we are talking about here is way more than just love or fear. We’re also talking illness and disease. Because the first thing that happens when the failure switch is flipped on is the immune system is turned down. In other words, love keeps you healthy!
2. Focus on Real Love, Not Business Deal Kind of Love
After 30 years of counseling, I’d say 99 percent of people that I have seen say I love you pretty easily to the people they care about. What most people don’t understand is that there are two kinds of love.
First, there is business deal kind of love. This is the kind of love that Hope and I had during the first part of our marriage. It’s “What’s in it for me?” type love. In other words, it’s love with an ulterior motive -- I’ll do this if you do that or I won’t do this if you won’t do that.
It took me 27 years to figure out real love. Real love is difficult. It very often means more pain, not less. Here are just some of the key characteristics of real love:
Love doesn’t keep lists of wrongs done against you. Those are forgiven as they happen and not brought up again.
Love is willing to suffer virtually any pain no matter how long no matter what for the object of its love. It never says I’ve had it, I’m out of here, I don’t love you anymore. (That doesn’t mean, however, that you stay if there is abuse.).
Love only gets angry about things that are hurting people. Business deal love gets angry if the trash isn’t taken out, if somebody doesn’t look at you right or you didn’t get the intimacy you wanted last night.
And probably the biggest one, love never fails. It works every single time and it’s most irresistible because real love is so rare.
3. Live by Internal Law
Fear is built on external laws with a focus on the past and future typically. It’s the way the natural world works and it’s the way most animals work as they live by instinct. External laws include theories like Newton’s Law of Relativity.
Internal law, on the other hand, is living in love, hope and peace. People whose lives are dictated by internal law suffer for the sake of the object of their love and never quit. They are world changers! Just about anyone who does real love was a world changer, whether within their family or at work or church or wherever.
4. Dismiss modern definitions of fight or flight.
How did we get to this place of living in fear and not love? Our definitions have devolved over thousands of years. The other name for the flight or fight response is the fear response and all fear is ultimately a fear of death. That’s why the stress response is only supposed to kick in during times of true duress.
When the stress response kicks in, your body is literally thinking “this may kill you!” Of course thousands of years ago that might have been the case -- you might have been facing a dinosaur, a wild animal or some other imminent danger.
Today we have thousands of stress response reactions. In fact, studies have shown that the average person goes into fight or flight mode 5 to 30 times a day! Each generation’s definitions devolved until the point where we are living today in a mode that literally translates to this slow Internet connection is gonna kill me, this unexpected rain is going to kill me, this traffic is going to kill me etc.
But if you are living in real love -- joy, peace, prioritizing relationships over everything else and living in the present --then you won’t be dictated by this fight or flight mode.
5. Realize we fear is embedded in our memories.
Many of us, no matter how hard we try, can't choose love as our 24/7 default. It’s not like your thinking all day long, I’m living in fear, living in fear, living in fear.
I’ve tested people over the years, and even those who say they are not in stress mode are physically showing the signs of stress. It might be almost impossible to break the pattern because you are working against generation after generation of a devolution of your meaning of real love and fear.
If you’re in the fear/failure place do not beat yourself up. Chances are you come by it’s honestly and it’s not “your junk.” It’s been passed down through generations. The first step is to be aware of what’s going on.
What is real love? What is fear? How do they impact the mechanisms in our brain? Fear mode is failure mode and you’ll never be able to beat it because the unconscious is a thousand times more powerful than your will power.
Most of us can’t fully commit to living in real love without tools like Trilogy and Memory Engineering that are designed to help guide you change your definitions and meanings of fear and love in minutes and days, not weeks or years.
Once you have changed that internal paradigm you can successfully switch to love-based thinking and living. I can’t wait to hear about how this works for you!
Have a blessed, wonderful day!