Welcome back everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season. Hopefully, at least some of you got something out of our holiday series on the subject of peace, because I’d like to continue that general trend of thought in another direction.
Over the past three weeks, we’ve talked a lot about the function that peace serves in our lives, what it is, how it is lost, and what we can do to at least begin the process of recovering it. In particular, we talked about the function of memory, and trying to trace the root of the event that caused us to lose peace in the first place.
I’ve made it no secret in the past that I’m a big believer in the Beatles, “all you need is love.” I think that’s absolutely true, and it’s the perfect way to move forward from our series on peace. Because while peace is largely defined by our relationship to the past (and the future), love is firmly rooted in the present.
You might remember one of my most used sources: Dr. Dan Gilbert of Stanford University, who wrote in his wonderful book, Stumbling into Happiness, that “Expectations are a happiness killer.” In other words, taking ownership of a future outcome that we can’t really control destroys our peace. But if our primary focus isn’t meant to be on the future, then what?
As you probably guessed from this week’s title, the answer is love. But how exactly can we put that into practice? Expectations from the future tend to be goal-oriented, but how does that translate? We can all agree that a life of love is a good thing, but what exactly is the goal we’re moving towards?
My advice is not to treat love as a discrete item on your checklist. Instead, try writing out a list of all the things you feel called to in life—notice, I didn’t say the things you like or the things you need to do, but the things you feel called to, that give you a feeling of fulfillment. Then go through each one and ask yourself whether that thing is based on love, and what else you might do to bring them more into line with those ideals.
All of this requires quite a shift in thinking, but I think one of the main reasons why living this way is such a powerful change is how it insulates us from expectations. Love lives in the present, and the present is always new. It isn’t dominated by the demands of the future or dragged down by the mistakes of the past. In a way, it’s the ultimate form of living on your own terms. If you look at peace as clearing the way, so that you can better make your own choices, then this is what you’re clearing it for.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd