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Love is not found in any ideal. It is not found in conforming to a standard. Love is an intention that determines our state of being in the world. It determines what we see and what we are able to create.

A life you love is created from the intention to choose love as often as possible. We can set this intention for ourselves. With enough practice, love can be our steadfast intention in every moment. Anyone can learn to do this.

Love is what we really seek in life without our even realising it. Tragically, we know so little about love. We undervalue it and consider it little more than a lofty aspiration. It would be nice to follow the teachings of Jesus and Buddha, but in the real world, we doubt there is room for love.

And yet all of life conspires to teach us how to love and be more loving. Learning about love is how we shift to higher awareness and higher consciousness. The universe is love, and when we shift towards love, we shift into harmony with nature. When we become at one with the greater divine love, we will have transcended our human ego.

Love consciousness – the way of Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Krishna – is a higher way of being in the world. It is a gateway to higher consciousness and enlightenment. Beyond love there is bliss and peace, and love is the gateway to these higher states of being.

The greatest service we can do for the world around us to learn to embody love. When we love, we become people who contribute love to the world. The more people who embody love, the closer we will get to heaven on earth.

From the perspective of love, we see the world from a higher, more divine perspective. Love vibrates at a higher level of resonance. When we choose love, we ourselves shift into the frequency of love. We become ourselves like the divine teachers and sages.

We get in life what we are. Our society is a product of the energy vibration of the average person. Raise the average, even by a tiny amount, and we create a revolution.

Our own shift towards love is a gift to the world. It is how we create a new world of possibilities through our own ability to create love as a possibility. Each time we choose love – when we choose to pick up a piece of litter, choose to listen instead of judge, choose to share instead of hoard, choose to honour our truth and intuition rather than ego and fear – we contribute to the greater love.

1. Love is a choice

Life doesn’t need to be so complicated. It’s just a matter of choosing love in every single moment. Creating a life you love is a choice. It is a matter of choosing what is loving to you, and saying no to what is unloving.

We do not choose our inspiration and true path, it chooses us. We do not choose what we are or to even be born – at least at the level of human reason. It is spirit that creates us and it is our spirit that chooses to live. Life/spirit creates us and we can only yield to our true nature or suffer the pains of resisting what is. And yet we choose how we interact with the flow of what is. We choose our intention. We choose love, or we choose fear.

We choose whether to love what we are or whether to fear, judge and hate. Choice is vital. It is how we evolve. As Gary Zukav writes, “the decisions that you make and the actions that you take upon the earth are the means by which you evolve.”

All choices are an act of creativity, because each choice creates a new reality. We are each the creators of our own experience. Even when we fail to choose we are actually making a choice. To experience love, we need to learn how to choose love in each moment. We need to focus our choices so they all work towards the creation of a life we love.

It isn’t enough to get your dream job or partner or house or body. It might seem like it would be effortless to find contentment in doing what you love and possessing what you love. But these are just opportunities to experience love. Love is not just an opportunity.

Love is not something that we can acquire. It is not something that is won. It is not a trophy or world record or balance sheet. It is an intention, an energy frequency, a state of being. And it must be created continually. It must be connected to in each moment. The love is always there. The only thing that changes is our ability to connect to love.

Doing what you love – following your passions, for instance – will create the opportunity for love, but it doesn’t create the love in and of itself.

Love isn’t automatic. The conditions for love can exist, and we can still be too caught up in fear to embrace these possibilities.

No goal or achievement can bring love into your life if love isn’t your clear, explicit, highest intention. If our intention is control, for instance, we are choosing from the fear of not having control. If we choose a career that we hope will protect us from failure, we will not create a life we love. The need for control at all costs will transform our dreams into nightmares. Choosing fear over love creates a life that makes us more afraid.

Doing what we love by itself isn’t enough. Following your dreams is not the complete recipe for creating a life we love. This is where it becomes so easy to get lost. The secret is this: we need to do what you love, WITH love. We need to learn, then, how to do things with love. This requires that we become masters of how to be loving. Very few of us know how to do this. We are much more practiced at judging and seeking control.

Love is a daily way of being in the world. Through love we can discover what we love, but to sustain the love we must be the continually creators of our connection to loving awareness. When we make each choice, we need to understand our intention. Is this loving? Am I open to learning about love? Or am I afraid? Am I trying to control?

Taking the time to discover our truth and true intentions is loving. Love is naturally curious and naturally wants to embrace the truth. When we love someone, we want to know everything about them. When we fear them, we shut out their truth.

If we decide we want to create a life we love, it is always only every because we love ourselves. The more we love, the more we value love. Tiny steps towards love fuel us. Every tiny shift is, however, a big leap.

Most of us look for permission to love ourselves from the outside world without knowing how to create love and a life we love. Love is allowing yourself to do what you love and be loved for who you are: giving yourself permission to choose love, and to love yourself, every hour of the day. When you choose love in each moment, a life you love is the natural product.

It is a mistake to believe that you need anyone’s approval for you to create a life you love. Wait too long for approval, and your life will soon be over.

We want a life we love, and yet we go about creating this life by avoiding our fears. We choose to react to our fears rather than to follow what brings love into our lives. We seek safety in ideals, believing that our failure to meet these ideas is what is blocking love from our lives.

Perhaps we fear poverty, rejection, or mediocrity, or humiliation. Or all four. We might fear failing to live up to expectations. We might fear our own self-reproach. Fear of not being good enough or capable enough or worthy enough is the thing that does the most to create a life that we hate. 

Fear focuses our energy into getting validation rather than creating value. Fear makes us desperate for safety. Some people choose to look for safety in money. Some people seek it in fame or social respectability.

We live in an incredibly rich but rather impoverished society. It’s no surprise that we are restless and looking for what we want in the wrong places. We are trying to fill up on relish rather than offering ourselves the nourishment of a solid meal.

2. Love is created and is creative energy

Creating a life you love requires that you understand both love and creativity.

Our life is our greatest creation. We compose our life through the medium of our intention and our choices.

Most of the things we believe we want, however, are not going to come into our lives. They are not meant to. It is so easy to get out of touch with your truest desires and to replace them with ideals and obligations: with reactions to fear.

Action is instructive. It’s vital to act on your desires to test them and discover the truth about whether they really are what you wanted after all. Many of the things I’ve wanted have proven wrong for me. Without love, life is a burden, a torture. Vision without love is a recipe for chronic dissatisfaction. It is through testing my hypotheses that I have learned the truth. I’ve avoided the sadness of living under the shadow of a big “what if?” The value of love is something that life conspires to teach us when we are an active partner is the evolution of our consciousness.

Creativity requires taking action. It requires giving birth. It requires active discovery of the truth. The more we are connected to love, the less threatened we are by life. We are prepared to learn the truth and aren’t so terrified by it. We realise that we are always safe, and that truth lies on the other side of our fears. We don’t need control, because we have love. We no longer need the world to conform to our ideas of what would be safe for us.

Life can seem cruel until we discover that love is the real lesson: not winning, not triumphing. What would be far more cruel is for us to live our wrong lives and for life to exist to gratify our egos. For us to prefer fantasies is a sign of our ignorance of the truth of life and the true nature of our experience.

There is so much left for us to learn about love. The generous teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and Gautama Buddha are waiting for us all to embody them. They are widely available. Billions of people follow these teachings. And yet we devote so little time to their core message of embodying love. We focus on dogma, rules, fear and judgment and are misguided by the institutions that fail to celebrate the core messages sufficiently.

3. Love is not control

Creativity requires that we release our need for control. Many people are addicted to control. Our relationships are often characterised by power struggles and we want certainty and security from the outside world. This is what happens when we don’t feel certainty inside ourselves, when we lack a connection to self love or divine love.

Creativity requires that we are open. Control, however, makes us shut down. Control needs things to be a certain way. Control doesn’t want to see what might run contrary to the need for safety.

Openness to the truth – to new possibilities – is what makes creation possible. Creation requires that we connect to powers that are far beyond our human capacities for control. Nothing that is created is created simply by the power of our will and intellect. We need to connect to vastly greater forces. We need to allow creation to flow through us.

Needing to know whether or not you will succeed before you even get started guarantees failure. It will restrict your possible outcomes, because it will mean that you will only give what is safe, not what is necessary.

Creativity requires being prepared to be disappointed. Disappointment might feel like failure, but it is only a failure of life to conform to our exact expectations.  What we are called to create in life is often far beyond our capacity for imagining it ourselves.

It is creative to embrace things as they are. Doing so creates value in what is. It is open to the truth of things. In being open, we align to the truth, rather than live in resistance to it.

The challenges of life are opportunities to create love. Each disappointment is a lesson in what we need to learn how to love. When we learn how to love, we create ourselves as a being that is capable of greater love. We recreate ourselves as we expand our capacity for love.

Creativity requires that we expect the unexpected. Often our ideas about how our life and success should manifest are quite incorrect. It may take far more time for you to find success than you imagine. It might take time for your true talents and abilities to grow, but in the end, they will no doubt far exceed what you ever imagined was possible.

The life that is best for us, and the life that is really meant for us, might not conform to our ideals. Fixed ideas are limits. Idealism is often routed in fear. Ideals and the truth are often very different from each other.

Love doesn’t need things to be a certain way

Love is beyond acceptance. It embraces things as they are, and expects that every apparent shortcoming is naturally balanced with a blessing.

Patience is an acceptance of the fact that there is a larger system, and that divine timing is more powerful than our ego’s need to have something right now.

Impatience comes from fear. If we believe we need to rush something to make it happen, it is because we don’t trust that something is so right for us that it is meant to be in our lives. An attitude of needing to be responsible for everything – to make everything happen – actually blocks the creative process. Creation flows through us. our task is to be opened and aligned: the show up and let the flow enter us and pass through us. We do not get to control all the details, and we do not succeed if we try to conform the world to our every need.

All things that we create take their own time. Rushing their gestation can kill the creative unfolding.

4. Love is honest

Allowing yourself to feel how you feel – to be honest about what you want and what inspires you – gives you the power to focus your energy in the direction that aligns to your truth. Love and truth are connected, because love is the truth.

The more honest we become, the more focused we become. Focus brings creative energy. It brings inspiration.

Honesty makes things happen faster. It does away with fear and the struggles and distractions that fear brings. Fear holds us back because it ties up our energy and power in doing the things that we think we need to do in order to be safe. Pursuit safety makes us a slave to fear.

It’s a mistake to overlook your desires because you think there is something wrong with them. Perhaps you think they are ridiculous? Too ambitious? Sinful? Egotistical? Irresponsible? Our desires don’t have to be any of those things is they are honest expressions of what inspires us. As we learn to live from love, we come to understand whether our desires are honest or dishonest. We avoid all the potential shortfalls when our intention is pure and loving. If we trust ourselves to be loving and honest, we have nothing to fear.

An authentic desire emanates from your soul. Creativity flows through you. You are not the source. You are simply the conduit. But you need to be connected to your soul in order to create. You need to be connected to higher truth, which is radiantly honest.

Creating our life plans from reason and a need for control and security never works out. Trying to substitute for your heart’s desires is a recipe for a life you hate. Listening to your voice and feeling your energy when you talk about and think about certain goals and plans can tell you a great deal about your real feelings. Rational goals are draining. Dismissing your truth is self-destructive.

Any desire that comes from fear and the ego will never create a life you love. The pleasure of ego is fleeting and only makes us more fearful. Only through a loving intention can we create a life we love. Nothing that we create from a place of ego, ambition, jealousy, greed or cheating will bring us love. Our cheating only cheats ourselves.

Our mind and awareness is naturally creative. We create whatever we see in the world. We create our judgments and our fears. Focusing on negative emotions turns us into the person or thing that we are most critical of. We need to be very careful what we criticise, because the critical energy conforms us to our critical expectations. We become the negative that we see in the world. To live from love, we need to shift into the intention to love. We need to learn to shift out of our fears and observe them with curiosity – as gifts and lessons in what we still need to learn about love.

It is possible to us to sabotage our desires by our subconscious belief that what we want for our lives is impossible. Unconscious believes that don’t support our vision will undermine us, and create mixed results. Honesty creates clarity. We need to make a point of getting clear both about what we want and what we believe is possible, rooting out our deep, hidden, limiting beliefs. Otherwise the conflict will create incredible creative blocks.

If our desire is to impress people, we need to be honest about that. Only through honesty can be learn the truth. Only then can we move past this desire and move from the intention to impress people to a higher intention: the intention to inspire people. Love shifts us from wanting to take from others: to get attention, love and admiration, to wanting to offer the world something: love, inspiration, knowledge.

The frustrated artist knows the feeling of conflict that is at battle when you vision for what you want to create challenges your negative beliefs about yourself and what it’s possible for you to create both in your art and your life. Negative beliefs normally win out.

Negativity is dishonest. It is unbalanced. We need to bring honesty to our dishonesty if we are to balance ourselves out and transcend the old polarity.

It causes us great anxiety to challenge our oldest beliefs about ourselves. Negative beliefs are our protection. We identify with the negativity, embodying it, so that it feels less threatening to us.

Our beliefs largely determine our experiences. People who expect to be treated badly usually are. In their world, this is the truth. We are all guilty of creating negative outcomes for ourselves to some degree.

Negative beliefs about ourselves may well be the way in which we first bonded with the world around us. To go against old criticisms, rejections and doubts would be to challenge our whole way of relating to the world. Letting go of old beliefs can bring up great anxiety. But until we release the conflict between what we want to create, and what believe we can create, we will remain in deadlock.

Continual mixed messages will only send you in circles. We can wait around like helpless children for the praise we’ve always craved but never came. Or we can actively start to support ourselves with our own conscious and consistent self-approval. We can learn to connect directly to love by knowing that love is something we can always choose in each moment, if we are willing.

Time spend conjuring your desires in your mind on a regular basis makes you increasingly comfortable with their possibility. They become less and less intimidating. The more honest we are, the more comfortable we become with being honest.

It’s important to honestly observe how your choices are making you feel. It doesn’t matter how much you believe you love something or someone, if it is making your sick and unhappy, something vital isn’t working. Something important needs to change.

Perhaps the dream needs to be rebuilt or substantially renovated? Perhaps the relationship needs space for your to get perspective?

Enthusiasm is honest excitement. It means we are connected to something that is real and vital for us. Enthusiasm fills us with divine energy. Following enthusiasm will guarantee that we create a life we love.

To choose love, we must choose what excites us, surprises us, fills us with energy. Spontaneity is inspiring. Love is energising, and we know we are inspired by love when we feel enthusiasm.

5. No one will give you approval to be honest and loving

Being honest can upset people. When we are loving towards ourselves, we will stop tolerating unloving behaviour from everyone. This can lead to conflict and the loss of important relationships.

Many people will believe that we are insane or idiotic for even imagining that we can create a life that is satisfying to us. They will believe we are selfish for devoting ourselves to our burning desires. They will hate us for not allowing them to treat us however is most convenient to them in each moment.

It is painful to realise that the people who are most important to us might not support us or believe in us. If these people do not live from love, they may be afraid of what love might do to challenge our connection to them.

Honesty will requires letting go of what is dishonest. Releasing illusions can be painful. But if we are connected to love for what we are doing, and feel inspired by our new path, we won’t give it a second thought. The love we feel will be greater than the sadness of discovering the truth that people do not love us as we really are.

6. Love requires discernment

Anything that undermines you and your dreams will need to be removed from your life. Anything that doesn’t support you has the potential to hold you back. Addictions, dysfunctional relationships, disorder and chaos are all things hat can drain our energy away from our dreams.

Choosing love requires saying no to what doesn’t support us in honouring our truth and talents. If we worship our fears, we cannot live from love. We need to become conscious of what our values are and choose actions that reflect love as our highest value.

You will need to give yourself permission to be discerning. No all situations and relationships give us room to say no without creating serious disruptions. The popular modes of being in the world: consuming, climbing and achieving are not loving, but letting go of these unloving agendas will be widely questioned by people about whom we might very much care.

Consumerism and clutter create stagnant, fearful energy. A house that is cluttered with unnecessary items blocks your life from welcoming new, more suitable and desirable energy. When we empty our lives of our fear-based attachments, we can open ourselves up to the things we most deeply and sincerely crave.

Our dreams require our full energy. If our energy is being drained, then we cannot give our best to realising our visions and to offering love to the world.

We are the ones who have to step up and fulfil our deepest desires and needs. The process of creating a life we love for ourselves teaches us just how much power we have without ourselves.

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This porridge is too hot. This porridge is too cold. This porridge is … just right?

Eating the porridge that is ‘just right’ is being discerning. The cold and hot porridge isn’t bad. It just isn’t the temperature that suits us.

We could eat the cold porridge. But that would be unpleasant. It wouldn’t be a very nice thing to make ourselves do, especially when their is just right porridge we could be eating. Discernment requires that we understand our needs and honour them because we want to create a life that meets our needs.

When making a choice, it doesn’t mean the other choices are bad, wrong, inadequate. They are just not choices that serve our best interests and highest good. They are not a “good fit”. And so we need to move on. No need to feel bad about it.

It can be challenging to be discerning when there is no guaranteed “just right” porridge sitting on the table waiting for us. We might decided to just make do with the cold porridge. Eat too much cold porridge, however, and life starts to suck.

This is where we need to have faith that “just right” exists somewhere out there, and that our needs are sufficiently important that it is worth our forgoing the cold porridge to seek the porridge we really want. Discernment requires faith that our needs are important that our needs can be met. And in seeking for our just right porridge, we might surprise ourselves and discover that we actually hate porridge and would really prefer a breakfast burrito. If we had gotten the just right porridge too quickly, we would never have discovered our true breakfast passion.

Valuing your own needs and making the choice to satisfy them ultimately guides us to our most fulfilling experience of life, even if it ends up surprising us.

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Misery flows from miserable thoughts. This is the relative norm. Judgment and competitiveness needlessly pervade the popular consciousness and we can quickly get swallowed up, swept away with the tide of collective fear.

There is no peace or power in a person’s life who hasn’t claimed their authority. Life conspires to teach us this lesson. Finding a way out of the thrall of lower consciousness is no easy task. We need to claim authority over our own experience. We must make use of our precious free will.

Our thoughts are a vital tool in achieving love consciousness. Thoughts themselves shouldn’t be worshipped as truth. A thought or belief isn’t the truth, but it can either bring us closer to the truth or lead us astray. The quality of our thoughts is vital to the quality of our experience.

We need to be very careful about the quality of what we are thinking or believing, because they will profoundly influence the quality of the choices we are capable of making, and the kind of reality we are capable of creating. A thought is a gateway to awareness and experience. An aware thought can lead instantly into a higher state of awareness. This illumination can last a minute or a lifetime.

We each get to choose the consciousness from which we operate. Many of us fail to choose, and so we operate on auto-pilot, creating from a lower level of consciousness. For most people, that level of conscious is unloving, fearful, judgmental and dysfunctional.

We can redirect the nature of our thoughts. If we make aware, loving thoughts a habit, we can become a source of our own continual illumination and higher consciousness. We can train ourselves to shift into loving thoughts any time that fear, anxiety and judgment start consuming us.

But what does a loving thought actually look like? Here are seven new ways of understanding love that will help you to make it your reality

1. Love can’t be earned

We may strive and strain to deserve someone’s love, but the task is futile. There are no requirements for a person or thing to deserve love.

Wasting our energy on attempting to earn the love of the world is a lesson only in the reality that true love cannot be earned.

Being as you are is adequate. There is no deserving. All things are perfect and divine. If we are loved or not loved, it will have everything to do with the person who is loving us. If we love others or ourselves, it has everything to do with our own ability to love and see what is loveable. No one ever earns our love.

We cannot control the world into loving us. All we can do is connect to love and connect to people who share their love. All we can do is love ourselves sufficiently to cultivate who we are and creatively share ourselves with the world.

The fact that most people will find it impossible to love us is a gift. It makes it essential that we learn to be a creator of love for ourselves and the world around us rather than exist as a mere passive consumer of love. Life teaches us to be a creator, and so it creates the necessary lack and tension to support creativity.

2. All things can be loved

Some things are distasteful. Some things are repugnant and terrifying.

Love shifts us out of judgment and sees what is valuable with divine perspective. Love doesn’t operate from the human ego. Death and tragedy are all vital. When we die and when others die, this death brings awareness about the value of life. Death is a beautiful gift to life. 

Our soul is eternal and so we are only transformed. Only ego and personality dies, and these are illusions that teach us about truth, but are not themselves truth. 

Higher awareness appreciates the value in all things. There is nothing that can’t be loved. Everything that is “wrong” with you and the world is perfect as it is. Your apparent weak points have their value. They are entry points to awareness. They will protect you from pursuing what isn’t right for you. Being as you are is more vital and loveable than being otherwise.

It pays to be open to unexpected goodness. There are hidden benefits and goodness in everything. Only our judgments and thoughts block us from this love.

3. Love – and higher awareness – is built on choice

Experiencing love depends on choosing love. We must choose what is loving and avoid what is unloving. Our choices matter.

Choosing love means saying no to what isn’t love. Saying no isn’t a judgment. It’s a discernment. If we choose love, it’s because that’s how we want to live. We want to align to higher awareness and release lower awareness. 

4. Fear is an opportunity to learn about love

When our fears are triggered, we have the opportunity to uncover the truth about them. We can learn from our fears how to be more loving.

A person who has learned to love themselves and the world in spite of all limits and fears will find in themselves incredibly powerful. They will not be dependent on circumstances for their experience of love. They will have the ability to bring that love to all people and things. Fear is an opportunity to connect to the power of love in a deeper way. In using choice to consistently connect to love when we are afraid, fear loses its power over us.

In a moment of suffering however we can always stop and ask ourselves:

  1. What am I feeling right now?
  2. What thoughts and judgments about myself and others are causing me pain?
  3. What is not loving about this situation that is hurting me?
  4. What have I chosen for myself right now that is painful: is it a fearful thought? Or is it the pain of having made a fearful choice?
  5. How am I being unloving to myself right now? Am I terrorising myself with fearful thoughts? Am I attaching to a need for control?
  6. Am I really separated from love? Can I connect to love regardless of external circumstances?
  7. What action can I take to be more loving?

At any moment, we can shift our thoughts and consciously choose to shift our awareness. We can shift into a state of openness and let go of criticism and judgment. We can learn from what is and learn how to bring love to all things

At any time we can consciously choose to stop. We can say a prayer of love and feel that love in our body. We can shift up and out of fear.

The ability to stop and connect to higher awareness gets stronger with practice. Prayer, meditation and the rosary all train us to release thoughts and connect automatically to higher awareness. It is loving to train ourselves to choose what supports us in living an aware, loving life.

5. There is no authentic success without love

A beautiful life does not need to conform to our ideals and fake standards. Many apparently beautiful things end up being unsatisfying. Most of our ideas about how life should be are wrong. Judgments and standards are inherently unloving and need to be avoided if we are to live from love consciousness.

Love doesn’t look how we so often believe it should look. A loving family doesn’t need to be placid and peaceful. A loving parent doesn’t have to be perfect. A loving career is not one without turmoil or many turning points.

Authentic success doesn’t come from the satisfaction of ideals. Ideals are typically routed in ego and ego-based needs for control and safety. To purse ego’s ideals is to create a life around satisfaction of the ego, which is impossible because ego can’t be satisfied.

6. Not getting what we want might be the most loving outcome

The things we want might not be loving for us. We just haven’t realised it yet.

The job, the relationship, the house we idealise might in fact be completely wrong for us and our life path and the world. This is always a possibility that we need to be open to. With experience, it proves itself to be true.

We aren’t always good at picking goals and dreams that reflect our truth. We need to cultivate a healthy scepticism for our desires and shift towards loving more and desiring less.

7. You can stop and connect to love in every moment

It takes less than half a minute.

  • Stop and say: thank you.
  • Stop and feel love flowing through your body. Invite it to enter you.
  • Stop and look around at every person and thing and say: I love you.
  • Stop and get down on your knees and give thanks for everything that is, exactly as it is.
  • Stop and connect to serene love.
  • Stop and connect to your own presence.
  • Stop and connect to your own heart and breath and soul.

How do you feel now? Why live any other way? We can create love in every moment, and in such a way create a life we love.

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James Dean James Whitcomb Riley

Each and every time I’ve gotten what I’ve really wanted – and I’m not exaggerating – it’s only taken me about a month, maybe two, for the awful truth to all too inconveniently set in. I was wrong. This sucks.

Sucks is a bit strong. The idealised victory becomes just “okay”. That’s quite the demotion.

Getting what you want and discovering its emptiness is a destabilising feeling. It makes you want to put yourself to bed for a few months until you can come up with a new, equally misguided scheme for happiness.

To add insult to injury, the things that have in fact provided the most enduring of pleasures have not in any way resembled what I’d thought would be meaningful. Maybe I’m bad at picking goals. Maybe my values are destructive and disturbed. Maybe my judgment is completely off and I’m suffering the consequences of my derangement.

I think we all are.

Judging by “the state of things”, I’d venture to suggest that our whole modern paradigm is completely amiss. Am I just shifting the blame? Or am I just a little cog in a much larger problem?

Our collective values are warped. We are mostly pursuing empty ideals and pretending to enjoy ourselves. Our obsession with control and accumulation is deadening. Are we having fun yet?

For all their perks, no one told us about how much of a drag an ideal can be.

It catches us by surprise. Who knew of the pathological boredom of conformity? The emptiness of pursuing more knowledge, experience, indulgence and credibility than the people around you? The banality of feeling you need to impress the widest possible audience?

We are superficial, and so we get the superficial experience from life that we embody ourselves.

Disillusioned, functional people choose to opt out. Zone out. Get high. Playing video games. We shop. We social media stalk. We travel. Drink. Work. Make goals. Attempt victory. Amass goods and money. Try not to care. Anything but feel like we have no control. Anything but feel the discomfort of actively shattering the illusions and replacing them with truth.

Maybe we didn’t know that was an option.

The heartbreak of shattering my illusions has repeatedly left me bedridden. I’m inclined towards being an invalid. Few people have taken more bed rest than I have, perhaps because few people have suffered as many ideals.

That’s not to say I haven’t had had more than my share of successes. But success is a dead end. It is simply the shattering the illusion. Life was more pleasant when I believed that I needed to do more to earn my happiness. When I discovered it couldn’t be earned, I was at a loss. No exit.

I would need to select more worthy goals. So far I haven’t been able to come up with a single worth goal beyond simply showing up each day and doing what I enjoy. That has sustained me. That has been the true blessing of my existence. It’s a seemingly modest state of affairs for someone who could clearly “do anything if they put their mind to it.” What, if anything, is actually worth striving for?

The only thing that has endured is getting myself on the path towards where I want to be. That never gets tiresome. On the path, all is well. It’s not the getting that matters so much as being in the flow. That’s sublime. Even when I face dissatisfaction, dragons and despair, I can be glad for it.

The people who achieve the most know how vital it is that we be discerning about what victory really means for us. With time our tastes mature. And we start to want to invite the terrible into our lives, if only to discover that terrible isn’t ever really so terrible.

Why getting your way is a waste of time

Why all this emphasis on getting our way? Is it possible that what we want from life is wrong, rather than our being wrong because we can’t get what we want?

The model of life we aspire to: security, safety, being right, happy and comfortable at all times is a mythology. We want our children to be happy. Would we have the wisdom to want our children to be unhappy too?

If we have any chance of understanding life, our hopes are to be satisfied in paradox. All victories contain within them a failure, and all failures contain within them a victory.

Are our enemies our friends?

If our enemies are simply people who don’t let us get what we want, perhaps we would be wiser to be grateful that we don’t always get what we want. Maybe our enemies are helping us to see the folly in our desires?

When religion X challenges our beliefs with their beliefs, perhaps they are teaching us about the folly of belief? Why the need to be right? It isn’t that satisfying anyway. So often being right means people will hate you for it. That’s a steep price to pay.

Dissatisfaction is the feeling that comes with discovering that we think should  make us feel satisfied isn’t able to do so. Despair is our giving up hope at being satisfied by anything at all.

We are all helping each other, even if our methods might seem curious. Our enemies are never our enemies, because there are no enemies. We are all at one and we are keeping each other honest. We are the arms on an infinite millipede. Can two arms be enemies? 

The ignorant people inspire us to learning. Our own ignorance inspires others to learning. Our failures show the world what doesn’t work.

If we succeed too easily in making too much money, we might never learn how to thrive without money. If loves comes to us effortlessly, then we will never learn how love needs to be connected to rather than begotten or earned.

To pathologize what is not convenient is to miss the whole point of living.

Valuing what you hate

It is surprisingly joyful to give yourself permission to be miserable. I am dissatisfied. Such confessions bring with them the rare pleasure of honesty. When we are honest about how we feel,we are in a position to embrace the truth and act from this honesty.

We can be delighted by disappointment. We can be glad that not all things make us happy. Why should lies and illusions please us anyway?

If our intention is to learn, rather than to control, it is hard to be dissatisfied. An intention to learn embraces all lessons as worthwhile. The worth of things becomes measured in whether they bring us awareness and lessons in love.

Embracing the challenges

A stream that flows around a rock embraces the rock with its flow. It doesn’t need the rock to be wrong for the flow to continue on.

We waste energy confronting problems rather than simply flowing around them. It brings to mind non-violent resistance – flowing around the aggressor and declining to meet their opposition with opposition. We need to practice non-violent resistance without ourselves if we are to make it the reality in the world around us. We need to embrace our own challenges by flowing around them and with them without resistance.

A challenge becomes an opportunity. Rather than lamenting the process, we can choose to be grateful for the opportunity for another thing to flow around and embrace. We can embrace the opportunity to learn how to embrace all things, flowing around them and letting them go as we move past them.

The trouble with ideals

What pushes away love is our ideas about what does and does not deserve love. If we decide that we do not deserve love in certain circumstances, it is simply because we are making a judgment about what does and does not deserve love in a way that doesn’t include ourselves in that moment.

Where does this judgment come from? Where did we learn what deserves love and what doesn’t? Are our beliefs true?

Our love is mostly offered conditionally. If we find self-love to be a challenge, most likely it’s because what we have learned about love so far is highly conditional. Be like X and you will deserve Y amount of love. We have encountered a specific set of conditions under which we can accept ourselves and another set of conditions under which we should reject ourselves.

Sometimes we excel at fulfilling all the requirements of lovability. Sometimes we fail.  If we are in the habit of looking for our own faults and feeling threatened and challenged by them, then our ability to experience love in the world will be highly unreliable. We will be unable to love ourselves because we fall too far short of our arbitrary standards.

Embracing ourselves as we are, and life as it is, requires something of a leap. You might call this leap grace. There is something about leaping into love that is always very graceful.

This might seem almost perverse to the ambitious person. Achievement is traditionally conceived of as righting all apparent wrongs. And yet how much in the world can be righted with confrontation? To right a wrong, the most efficient path is non-resistance, transcendence and love.

Embracing dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction is an important human challenge. It is what inspires our growth and our learning and our creativity. We are dissatisfied with the quality of what is available, so we create our own products and art and reality to meet our unmet needs.

Why struggle against our source of inspiration? Instead it can be flowed around, flowed with, embraced, used to guide our course in a meaningful way. If we view obstacles as personal affronts then we waste their hidden opportunities. 

We need challenges and negativity. We need fear and anxiety and negativity. Living from one polarity creates stagnation. Evolution requires dynamic energy.

To pit ourselves at war with something is to become trapped in the polarity rather than using the energy to create and move forwards. To only see positive or negative is a distortion. It’s these illusions that create in us  division and confusion. The illusions make us upset, not the things themselves. We see the division as bad rather than understanding that polarities are simply a means to creation.

Embracing the void

Uncertainty – not knowing or not controlling – makes space for new energy to flow into our lives.

The void is a part of the human experience. It brings with it a longing for what appears to be missing. The more we assume that what is missing is somehow harmful to us, the more painful the void will seem.

If we lament the lack of romance, friendship, material comforts, accomplishments, it is the void inspires us to take action. Rushing through the void, rather than embracing it, is a form of resistance. We can settle far too quickly when we are in a rush. We might fail to hear the lessons of the void. We need to flow around obstacles, not gush around them.

What appears to be missing from our lives has a great deal to teach us about who we are and what we really need. The void brings silence into our lives and connects us higher truth.  If we are to learn about what our heart and soul desires, we need to slow down, be quiet and listen. Silence can guide us to the truth about ourselves and life. Listening to silence, rather than stuffing ourselves full with distraction and stimulus, allows us to open up to ourselves more fully.

The void creates space for new possibilities. It is okay not to have all the things you think you need. It is vital, even. It is a gift. We benefit more from silence than from excess.

Loving what hurts

Our pain is where we have the greatest amount of wisdom to share with the world. From our pain we learn that love is a choice, and that we can have a life filled with love irrespective of the conditions we are facing. Pain allows us to discover how much love exists irrespective of adversity.

When we suffer from our wounds their value seems entirely absent. We may be tempted to distance ourselves from what is painful, covering our pain over with smiles and distractions. We may create a whole life around the things that let us gloss over our pain. Our life may become an elaborate escape from our pain rather than a creative manifestation of love.

Forever escaping pain will mean that the course of our life is determined by our pain. If we no longer wish for our fears, wounds and traumas – however big or small – to keep unconsciously controlling our lives and blocking our ability to love, then we need to love them and value them so that they become a source of our power.

Addiction

Visit an AA meeting and you’ll notice love. Authentic love. The AA meeting is a process of bringing compassion and acceptance to your feelings and the feelings of others. There is a connection to divine love as a source of guidance and protection.

It’s no coincidence that AA meetings do so much to help people. Taking your sadness, pain, fear and emptiness seriously is a very loving thing to do. Addicts invariably become grateful to their addiction as a gateway into learning how to love.

We need to love ourselves like this. We need to bring compassion to our every hurt, and speak as tenderly to ourselves as we would a person who is sharing their story of pain.

So many talented people believe themselves to be worthless. They don’t feel they have anything to contribute. But if we devalue our own talents, we will struggle to value anything. 

Life can often seem indifferent to us. Our truth is often ignored. We may try to decide whether this indifference is deserved or not. If we are not seen or valued by ourselves, we will be vulnerable to addiction.

Addiction is the seeking of a predictable source of love, if only for a fleeting moment. How profoundly must we be disconnected from love for us to seek it in substances and process? A person who lacks love becomes desperate for love. Without a secure connection to love, we will seek it out in potentially destructive places and pale imitations. If we are starved of love we will be ravenous.

If there is no void, there is no compulsion to fill the void. People who thrive do so because they nurture themselves. They value what they are and give themselves what they love.  Addiction is an opportunity for us to become honest about how we are unloving. Our addictions are valuable and we can value them as lessons in where and how and what we need to learn to love.

Become a poet

The storyteller loves dissatisfaction, dragons and despair. No despair, no stories. No obstacles, no overcoming.

Most people do not live heroically. A hero is different and therefore admired because of their willingness to embrace their challenges and transcend them. Whereas we hesitate, the hero keeps walking, moving, flowing forwards. They are, in the end, grateful to the dissatisfaction that made their old life intolerable. 

“One thing is needful.—To “give style” to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added; there a piece of original nature has been removed—both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime.” – Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Love is creative. It brings all things together into perfect order. When we are creative and loving, dissatisfaction, dragons and despair become welcome tools for higher love.

James Whitcomb Riley If I knew

Love takes pleasure in the peculiarity of the beloved. It is indulgent of every almost imperceptible uniqueness. It doesn’t wish anything away. So too must you love your vision and your talents.

It is irregular for people to so indulge themselves. It’s a pity. Such indulgence would foster much needed uniqueness and individuality in this world of pro-forma robots. You have a soul, and so do I. Perhaps it’s time we started to act like it?

The person who doesn’t accept their truth can’t accept the truth of anyone else. Being critical of your own truth makes you insufferable. Such people are forced to befriend and marry and torture each other.

A silenced person is a miserable person. A dead person. A suicide in limbo.

Imitation is suicide, as Emerson wrote. We will commit many little suicides in our lifetime.

But death isn’t final. Eventually we grow tired of self-repudiation and expect more from life and from ourselves.

Truth is vital to love. It can be hard to love ourselves because ideals get in the way. But ideals are not truths.

When ideals become the most important thing, our apparently strangeness and flaws become the enemy. In idealising, we waste our lives and our true talents.

Self-love frees us from seeking refuge in an identity we imagine is loveable. It stop us from forever seeking to escape our truth. When we are connected to a love for what is, we don’t need to escape from the truth of what it. We will be delighted that we are as we are, and that you are as you are, and that all is well as it is.

It is a profound torture to live without love. To withhold love from ourselves is to harm ourselves needlessly. Do we believe withhold love will make us better people? Do we withhold love because we believe we don’t deserve it?

Such false ideas about what deserves love will drain the joy and bliss from our lives and from the lives of others.

Love often seems foreign territory. Forbidden territory. Love ourselves too much and we might upset someone. We might run wild and cause a commotion. We might frighten important people. People we love. And thus we spend our lives like the family dog. We’ve been trained by an electric collar and will no longer go outside of the yard long after our collar has been removed. Loving yourself seems too dangerous an exercise in freedom.

We believe we need permission to cross over to the land of love. It’s a land exclusively for the chosen few who have earned love, we believe. But not for us. Not yet. Perhaps not ever.

We believe that someone needs to choose us and tell us that we deserve love. Frankly we don’t want to see for ourselves how loveable we really are. We don’t want to have to love ourselves because that seems like a lot of work. It seems undignified. When we fear appearing undignified, we limit our lives to the dim and the pale. 

Love requires a lot of perspective. A higher perspective. A divine perspective. Only the divine could love us exactly as we are. Perspective and awareness must be cultivated.

Discovering your truth

Maybe you have some clues.

Or maybe you are living like an automaton, and your truth is more elusive.

Do you have space for truth? Can you afford to know who you are? Can you afford to be transparent?

Honesty. Authenticity. Integrity. Some of the few remaining luxuries.

We might be tempted to choose the path that is most convenient – the effortless path – believing that what is effortless is heaven sent. There will be a life that will appear to choose us without our having to do a single thing. Our opportunities can just as easily trap us as they might promise enrich us. If they do not enrich us spiritually – if they do not correspond to our highest values – then they will only set us up to fall short of our own highest values. There are few things worse.

We might prefer instead to take on the values of the world around us. We may attempt to surgically implant values we consider more profitable, desirable, respectable.This is avoidance of our truth. It benefits no one. It is the worship of truths universally accepted that are in fact lies.

If we don’t value who we are, then we will have no curiosity in what we are. We won’t take the time to know ourselves.

Self-love starts with discovering our truth through valuing our truth and being simply willing to know the truth: good, bad, ugly, surprising.

When you love someone you want to get to know everything about them. What’s important to them becomes important to you. Their truth becomes important to you.

You want to know about what they enjoy and don’t enjoy, and why. You want to be sure that they don’t have to do things they don’t enjoy very often.

What are they afraid of? How are they unloving towards themselves and others? How are they healthy and functional, and how are they less so.

To love ourselves, we must be this curious about ourselves.

Maybe we are afraid of ourselves. Reluctant to discover the truth. Unwilling to support ourselves. Terrified of what we will discover.

Coming into possession of your own truth and authority is something none of us can escape. We either succeed or we are on the way to succeeding. Lifetimes conspire to reveal truth from falsehood.

Only love makes us curious and open. Love embraces the truth. True love is open to learning because it can afford to learn. It is strong and robust. It resembles the love of a loving father, a father we either need to manufacture for ourselves or find in the divine or both.

Fear doesn’t want to know because to fear, truth is an obstacle.

To love ourselves we must love to our truth. We can pay attention to our feelings. We can be curious about them. We can ask ourselves how we feel. We can bring love to whatever we discover.

Embracing the truth and being grateful for what you are

So often life isn’t quite what we want it to be. We aren’t what we want to be. And yet, time proves that what we desire is so often wrong.

The only thing of value is what is.

To resist what is leaves us at odds with reality. It makes us crazy.

All things in nature have value. Ignorance, anger, pride, fear have value. Despair has value. Every state is an entry point to a new state. Often, without anger, there is no way out of despair. Anger is very often our own route out of despair.

Without ignorance, we could not be human. We would either be gods, or our brains would collapse. Without fear, we couldn’t value love.

All things have great value, and learning to value all things in life is the path to enlightenment.

Something we cannot yet love is a message to us in what we need to learn about love. It is a message to us about what we feel we need from the outside world to be safe. It tells us the ways in which we are seeking ourselves outside of ourselves. Needing things to be otherwise is a sign that our sense of being is contingent on the outside world, because that is where we are seeking it.

Seeking yourself within your heart and within your ability to have heart makes it possible to love all things and align to higher awareness.

Embracing your flaws

We can be grateful for our flaws. We can bring love to them. And in so doing, we can discover their true value. We can discover that there are no mistakes, and that each limitation leads us to exactly where we need to be. All flaws and errors are gifts. They teach us how to love if we are willing to learn how to love everything. That is the greatest lesson.

You can get down on your knees every day and say thank you for your flaws and shortcomings. You can get down on your knees and say thank you that life is exactly as it is. You can be thankful for your broken heart and ignorance.

This is the discovery of serenity. It’s not called the serenity prayer for nothing. Learning to accept all that is – to accept even the things that cannot be changed – is a source of immense power.

There is no reason to criticise yourself and hold yourself hostage to an ideal which you fail to comply with. Resisting yourself is to be disempowered by an absence of love.

There is no true failure other than a failure to love, and even these failures are an entry point into love.

Love is the way. To love ourselves, we must become masters in learning to love.

The central message of all religion has been steadfast love. It wasn’t conditional love, there were no exceptions. Love was to be manifested and lived in each moment through loving intention towards all things. That is the true message: the rest is extraneous. All the other bits and pieces and dogma are distractions.

We can connect to this divine love ourselves continually. We can ask to be connected to love for what we judge as inadequate. We can ask for divine love to flow through us exactly as we are, without requiring that anything be different.

Life can be that easy. We have a hotline to infinite love in any moment if we stop and let ourselves dial up and tune in.

Doing work you love

The less we love ourselves, the more prepared with will be to compromise ourselves. When we aren’t satisfied with what are are, we will need more from the outside world to feel good, even just for a moment or two. Our appetites may become voracious.

We could stop working in jobs we hated if we took the time to love ourselves and value our time and ourselves enough to discover that this love is all we really want. The extras of life: the money, acclaim, respect, all pale in comparative joy. We could afford to work in jobs we love because our desires are now relatively modest and contained.

Love makes us free to be who we are. It free us from neediness. It makes choosing what we love effortless, because we want nothing less for ourselves.

I admire people who delight in the things I cannot myself find easy pleasure in. What drains me might well be the very balm for your soul. My incompetencies might be your highest expression of love in the world. Only you can know what fills you with live and inspires you and connects you to your truth.

Listening less to the noise of convention and society and more to your own inspiration and to the silence is what will open you up to the possibility to living according to your own highest order of values.

When it comes to success, we must be the sole arbiters of what success will mean for us. An unfinished, aborted project might be something we consider a success if it gives us what we were looking for and brings us closer to the truth. It might not have been what we imagined as necessary, but being limited by ideals and prerequisites for how our success should look distracts us from our true task of learning and being open to inspiration.

If you want to write, you don’t need to write books. You don’t even need to write sentences if you’d prefer not to. You get to choose.

If you want to cook, you can pick whether you cook jams or offal or seaweed. You define your own objectives and creative ambit.

Love requires authority over your heart and mind

Quite a few people probably don’t think you deserve love. In fact a large portion of the population will actively begrudge you love. They believe that to deserve their love there are countless deficiencies you will first need to rectify. But it’s not their love that you need.

Self-love requires a subversive, rebellious streak. It requires being prepared to enjoy love in the face of disapproval.

Self-love is a private matter. It is your business alone. You have a right to privacy and a right to a private relationship with yourself, with the divine as your witness. You never need anyone’s permission to love. You can love someone entirely without their permission, and you can do the same for yourself.

There are no requirements that we must fulfil to earn or deserve love. Love starts and ends with choosing love now and in every moment, regardless of superficial circumstances and ideas of what deserves love.

Because we are so often wrong about what deserves love. Just like everyone else is wrong.

Perhaps we have made agreements with ourselves and the world as to what we must do to deserve love. Question those agreements. Undermine them. Renegotiate the terms of your life so that nothing is required for you to love every moment and every thing, and to choose from love in every moment.

Investing in yourself and building self-capital

Self-love expresses itself through loving action. Investing time in what you value is how you make yourself valuable. It’s how you merge with your values and reorder yourself so that you fit with your values.

More important than building wealth, the most vital resource we can accumulate is the means to express what we are. Developing our talents. Investing in the capital that allows us to express ourselves. Cultivating our skills and talents and awareness and knowledge-base.

Every day is an investment in something.

If we want to create a life we love, we will need to invest wisely in what will create more love in our lives, making it our daily experience.

Our biggest investment in life is made by how we choose to invest our time, energy and awareness.

We can choose. Do we invest in ourselves, or in something else?

If we invest outside of ourselves, it will be because we value ourselves less than the image, persona or paradigm we consider to be superior to our own truth.

If we invest in ourselves, it will only be because we value our truth, our gifts, our talents and our visions more than we do anything else.

Our self-capital is like our personal balance sheet. This balance sheet tells the story of what you have invested in.

What have created? What are your skills? What resources are at your disposal to create more? What are your values? What is your vision?

The values and vision are the key assets.

Who you are is more important than what you have done.

“We must cultivate our own garden,” wrote Voltaire, and few more sensible things have been said than this. Investing in self-capital is the path to tending your own garden.

If we cultivate ourselves and our own garden, our life becomes focused around creating value. We are not trying to control others. We are nurturing ourselves lovingly so that we have more to offer.

Self-love and self-cultivation is a generous way for us to live. It allows us to create unique value around authenticity and truth. When we invest in our truth, we become what we really are.

Investments in ourselves compound. The sooner we start, the better. We can all afford to spend more time each day living from our truth and cultivating our gifts.

Self-love requires that we consistently invest in ourselves, irrespective of what the marketplace appears to be doing around us. If we don’t tend our garden, our garden will decay.

The dominant paradigm is even more flawed than you are

This is a distinct possibility. Don’t rule it out.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” wrote Krishnamurti.

Competition and accumulation and triumph. Are they really the greatest good? Or are they a sickness? Is there some other truth calling you?

Instead of assuming more needs to be done to fit within the prevailing paradigm and to succeed on its terms, more often the opposite is true. Those who create the most value deviate from the dominant paradigm and bring their unique vision to life. They create value by creating the new and unimagined.

You create unique value by connecting to what is new and unimagined in you. The dominant paradigm is a mediocrity and a lie. It is a collective myth. You own nothing to its maintenance and nothing to the people who insist on your compliance.

Self-love as self-trust

How can you trust yourself enough to believe that you and your vision is worth the investment?

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It takes trust to take a step. Trust saves us.

What makes trust for ourselves possible is the knowledge that there is no higher ambition a person can have than that they be what they really are.

There is no difference between your truth and the truth of the universe. Your authentic truth is divine. To deny it is to silence the divine as it intends to unfold through you.

Trust in yourself means trusting in the very goodness of life as it is trying – sometimes in vain – to divinely manifest through you. Let go and let God.

Unkindness is contagious. Concentrate it enough and it quickly turns into an epidemic. You get wars and genocides and corruption and fast food. If you are wondering what is destroying the world around us, it is mere unkindness that is to blame. When you and I are unkind, we do our bit to contribute. We are probably only as unkind as life has been to us. If we are sweetness in light, it is probably only because we have been lucky enough that life has been sweetness and light to us.

Most of us are unkind at least once a day. With so much unkindness around us, we often forget that kindness is even a possibility, let alone the ultimate path. All religions have made it their central message. These religions themselves have been equally guilty in forgetting simply to love all things. It requires conscious, perhaps saintly effort to jump in and stop the cycle of unkindness.

Kindness is both a lofty and a humble goal.

If we are alive and happy and kind, it is because of the kindness of our mothers. The vitality of such kindness is frequently forgotten and devalued.

Only kindness nurtures the world into life. We are mothers and fathers to a whole world and our own reality. When we choose kindness, we thrive. Life thrives around us.

And yet we are are all a little bit unkind. Our own lapses in kindnesses, whether tiny or substantial, contribute to a larger pathology. We are far more responsible than we can comprehend.

Life has been very kind to me, and so kindness is what I mostly mirror back to the world. But there are always notable gaps. I can be as unkind as I feel like being. Unkindness is part of the human experience and I am daily proof.

So too is it our gateway into valuing love. But if we aren’t conscious and don’t yet value love, we can tend to get stuck in a feedback loop of unkindness without ever moving through it and beyond it.

We are all unkind in our own unique way.

Perhaps we are unkind in our apathy and our greediness and our judgments? And if life is a little bit extra unkind to us, we will lash back with anger or withdraw coolly. Sometimes I care that my shoes are made from dead animals, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I think about buying expensive things and forgetting about all those starving women and children. What do they know about the demands of passing fashion anyway?

Whether we set the world aflame with anger or withdraw cooly into ourselves, we are unkind until we choose kindness as what we want to create for ourselves and the world.

fire and ice robert frost

Unkindness is dissolved by saying no to what is unkind. The final frontier of peace is within us and our ability to choose.

Self-love requires some ruthless quarantining of ourselves from what is unloving and making love our first choice.

We can choose to become aware. We can quarantine ourselves from unkindness. We can limit our role in being a transmitter of the unkind in the world. We can become kind to ourselves so that kindness becomes all that we have to offer.

Why discernment is vital to self-love

The kinder I am to myself, the easier it is to be kind to others. Kindness becomes a default setting. It becomes a standard response to being alive. If I deserve kindness, I will assume that so too do all other people.

It is loving to create a life that meets your own needs and respects your gifts. It it loving to love what you are and nurture yourself into cultivating your gifts and truth. This requires discernment in saying no to the things that dishonour you. Nothing dishonours us more than when we are unloving.

To say no as an act of love, we need to become adept at identifying those things that are unloving, and we need to learn how to say no in a way that is kind and loving to all people.

What is unloving? Self-rejection.

– Forcing yourself to do or choose things that don’t reflect your highest values and personal truth. Making choices you don’t believe in because you think you should believe in them. Self-repudiation.

– Putting faith in the truth of someone else over your own truth. Putting someone else’s values and agendas consistently above your own.

– Not creating the space necessary for you to be what you are.

– Saying yes to people to gratify them and to control them into thinking well of you at the expense of your own wellbeing.

– Not following your calling, interests, passions, talents.

– Compensating with obsessive, addictive behaviour.

– Devaluing your own experiences and feelings.

– Unconsciously harsh self-dialogue.

– Not taking the time to cultivate your abilities.

– Forcing yourself into externally defined notions of success on the micro or macro level.

– Spending time with people who devalue you

– Spending time on things that devalue you

– Doing the right thing instead of doing the truly noble thing: having integrity and respecting yourself first so you can respect the integrity of others

– Situations and relationships that make it impossible to say no or yes with any degree of freedom

How to say no lovingly and gracefully

– Give yourself permission to say no. This will make you less combative in your approach. If no isn’t an option, a relationship isn’t respectful of you and your needs.

– Be specific about what you are saying no to. Are you saying no to a specific event or behaviour, but not the situation or relationship in its entirety? Make the no specific and be clearly about what it is you are saying no to.

– Be clear with yourself that if you say no and the person you are saying no to reacts with anger or anxiety, you are not responsible. Use it as an opportunity to reiterate why you cannot do or accept the specific thing, but are willing to work together to find a compromise and to consider alternatives.

– You can say something that makes someone upset without being an unkind person. Being interpreted as unkind and being unkind are very different things. Release the need to control all other peoples’ feelings.

– Determine to connect to a source of peace at all times, especially while facing challenges an having difficult conversations. Deliberately keep yourself consciously focused on this peace and presence.

– Observe your feelings. Are you relieved after saying no? If you feel bad, is it possible that you have made a mistake? Have you said no to one thing when you in fact really wanted to say no to something else?

– Are you mourning a loss, and if so, are you comforting yourself appropriately?

– Can you take pleasure in having been the preserver of your energy and resources? Can you take pleasure in having taken care of yourself in the face of criticism and disapproval?

Self-love requires that you defend your own highest good as worthy

Self-love and self-acceptance are one. Accepting who we are and what we value allows us to be kind to all other people as they are.

Love requires a feeling of support for who are are at the deepest level. This is own individual responsibility. We are supposed to embody this “self-esteem” in ourselves from our parenting, but more often than not we don’t.

No one else can value what we value. No one else can be the defender of the values that we hold highest. We need to be the gatekeeper of our own experience and protector of our own resources. If we deem ourselves worthy of protection, and deep our talents as worthy of cultivation and prioritisation, then our work in life is mostly done.

Alain Delon Alain Delon and puppy

– See the goodness in what it.

– Embrace the goodness in what you are.

– Be open to the goodness in what others are.

– Trust in the goodness of life, and that life brings you only what is good.

– Offer love to yourself.

– Stop and connect to higher love.

– Do what is necessary to bring more love into your life.

– Do what is necessary to protect yourself from what is unloving.

– Build a loving relationship with yourself.

– Speak kindly to yourself.

– Build a loving relationship with the divine.

– Build loving relationships with people who inspire your love.

– Nurture yourself to feel protected, guided and safe.

– Care for yourself. Have your own back.

– Kindly take a stand for yourself and others when they don’t fit the mould.

– Say no to what isn’t loving for yourself and others.

– Say no to unkindness.

– Take the time to get to know yourself and others.

– Invest time and attention in what you love.

– Look for lessons in love in surprising places.

– Accept what you are and where you are at with love.

– Make love your point of focus and living mantra.

– Creatively connect to love at every opportunity.

– Decide that you want love to be your dominant life experience.

– Consciously, actively, consistently say thank you for what is.

– Say thank you for the things that make you uncomfortable.

– Say thank you for your dissatisfaction and despair and disappointments.

(IMAGE: Alain Delon and puppy)

love cats

“Don’t fuck up” is a habitual thought I’m familiar with. I do okay, but thankfully not too well.

A thought like “don’t fuck up” is going to create a life so boring that a disaster would seem like a holiday. It isn’t the worst habitual thought in the world, but it is based in severe ignorance. It pretends to know the worth of all things.

Feeding yourself ignorant habitual thoughts is like living on a diet of macaroni and cheese. It’s easy, it’s comfortable, but it’s not performance food.

Finding a better way of being in the world – whether that means creating a healthy body or not being a boring, selfish asshole – requires discipline, determination and a stirring, rousing vision. Becoming painfully intolerant of mediocrity certainly helps.

To choose the quality of life we are embodying, reconsidering our thoughts are our first priority. We become what we repeatedly think. We embody the quality of our thoughts. We need to become careful about which thoughts we are prepared to feed ourselves.

Ignorant thoughts lead to a confused, frustrated life. Angry thoughts make life a perpetual punishment. Fearful thoughts are an equal torture.

But what, in all sincerity, is even worth thinking?

It can be hard to know.

Nothing is one option. Silence. Silence brings considerable peace. That should certainly be part of our healthier thought diet.

But rarely is silence even considered as an option.

Instead we wonder if we are best to follow the dominant thought paradigms of the world around us, or whether it might not be better to become a radical of some sort. Should we pursue competitive, aggressive, control-orientated thoughts, and thereby perpetuate the dysfunctions they have created in the world so far, so that we can simply follow the rules of the game? Or should be rebel and be defined inversely by the dominant paradigm?

It can be particularly hard to know what to think when we don’t know what we want and we don’t know what is valuable and we don’t even know who or what we are.

If you want to move beyond the standard limits of being in the world, a higher perspective is crucial.

I’m grateful to Power vs Force by Dr David Hawkins for presenting me with some rare truth amidst a sea of falsehoods.

Hawkins created a scale of the levels of “human awareness”. At any one time, we are somewhere on the scale. We can move up or down the scale. Moving up the scale is more pleasant, to say the least, but moving down the scale can also be very helpful too.

This is not a scale of that ranges from winner to loser, nor from success to failure, nor from good guy to bad guy. It is a scale from falsehood to truth, from dark to light, from ignorance to enlightenment. I’d tried the other scales and they were bogus. Hawkins’ scale endures beyond the ordinary limits and offers something of higher significance.

Of vital importance in this scale is an acknowledgment that every level in the scale is a vital gateway to the next level. Every ignorant thought is in fact valuable as an entry point to awareness. Ignorance isn’t wrong, it just isn’t right either. Whether or not we find it tiresome or a godsend on different days, it simply is part of the process of being alive.

What, do you think, lies at highest levels of the scale?

It isn’t control, achievement, recognition or being right or infallible.

A person at the top end looks more like Jesus or Buddha than Rupert Murdoch or Steve Jobs.

The highest states of being in the world? Love, Joy and Peace. Image that.

Is that a realistic way to approach our lives: living from love, from joy, from peace? It doesn’t seem that way. Christianity is based on “love one another” and Islam calls itself the “religion of peace”, but is that how we are really living? Are we too busy terrorising ourselves and others with our fears and our judgments? Are we too obsessed with the pursuit of control?

Absolutely.

When it comes to living from Love, Joy and Peace, we are failing.

A big part of the problem is that living your life like this means you might start to look like a loser in the eyes of the world around you. If you stop making money and social acceptability your God, you might alienate people and you will probably lose your current life. As if that would be a bad thing.

We are scared of living from love, because that might mean having to share ourselves with people and give to others and to put other peoples’ needs in line with our own. It would mean giving up jobs that are hateful and which disrespect us and the world. It would mean buying out and facing the truth. It requires that we assume the apparent burden of personal authority.

Living from peace would require taking responsibility for all our feelings and for creating a sense of peace in each moment. Peace is something we’d rather think other people should create for us. This all seems like a lot of work. Couldn’t we just watch TV instead?

Responsibility is terrifying. It’s work. It’s an acknowledgement of the truth: that no one is going to come and save us and fill our lives with love. We have to be the one. We have to be our own saviour. We are the guru, the teacher, the way. That’s an intense responsibility and often we don’t want it. Which is a shame, because it’s the only way.

Choosing to finally claim authority for your own experience of life is a liberation when it finally arrives. At least you can be sure that someone is going to make something happen: because that someone is you.

Rather than looking for love and peace and joy outside of ourselves, we can claim it and make it our path.

How do we start?

By making them our love and peace and joy habitual thoughts, and therefore our habitual experience. Our brains can be rewired. I lives can be transformed. It’s never too late.

Why habits matter

All habits are a choice that we don’t even know we’re making. We are responsible. It might not look that way, but we are.

Our habits might feel like they have simply happened to us – that they are the one true reality and order of the universe – but they are just something we have learned, and are something we can unlearn, depending on what experience of life we really want.

Our habits create our dominant life experience. We are free to choose our habitual thoughts and therefore our habitual experiences. But what experience do we most want to choose for ourselves?

Mostly we are clueless. We think we want control. We think we want resources, attention, accolades, accumulation. We want a special someone to like us and think we are special too.

None of this endures and satisfies. It can be a very painful discovery: all that striving and so little joy. Hedonism appears to be our only option for a few scattered moments of bliss. Codeine, maybe.

We think that love is something we need to earn rather than being something we create. We focus on winning it and earning it through our acquisitions and achievements. We seek to become impressive.

But love itself is not the main focus. We seek it in the wrong places. We are ignorant to our truest desires, needs and reason for living. We don’t know what we really want, and we don’t know how to get it either.

We’ve heard the church sermons, and yet we still haven’t figured out that love, peace and joy are the only eternal truth and is the highest experience we can aspire to.

A life based around love seems like a utopia. The stuff of delusions. And yet truly it’s all we want: a life where we experience love in each moment. We want to learn how to continually create love. Love becomes the gateway to joy, and then to peace. We want to move up the scale of consciousness and away from ambition and fear. We want to simply be what we are. We want to connect to the divine love that is our being.

Our brain doesn’t think it’s possible or necessary, but our heart never quite gives up hope.

Suffering allows us to value love. Fear makes love the only possible escape. The pain of the lower levels of consciousness forces us up and into the light. Without love, everything is suffering. Without fear, there is no reason to learn how to love.

Our liberation arrives with the discovery that we can create love directly and use our fears to learn how to love. But first we need to get clear that a life we love is all we really want.

Making love your focal point

In yoga there is the concept of the drishti. Drishti roughly translates to “focal point”. When you move into a challenging pose, you can find to a point on the wall in front of you to fix your gaze. Focusing your gaze stops you from wobbling to the point of falling over. That is a drishti. It can be a tiny speck of dust. It can be a crack in the wall.

Wobbling isn’t a bad thing, and nor is falling over. Wobbling is just our body learning to balance. But if you are always falling over, you aren’t going deeper into the pose. Having a focal point allows you to wobble without so much falling over and not having the opportunity to wobble at all.

Our mind continually seeks a focal point. We can choose them consciously or unconsciously. They are how we keep ourselves upright.

Often we will pick our focal point poorly. We will pick impressive focal points rather than truly stable ones. They might be initially stabilizing, but before long they start to move. They are illusions: a false drishti. They only give the appearance of stability.

Controlling, obsessive thoughts and goals are falsely stabilizing. These are thoughts about how much we can achieve, say, make happen in our lives. They aren’t truth, so they disappear. They are impermanent. They are designed to control how we feel and how others feel about us but they are illusions and don’t last. They are not based in love, but in fear. They are more concerned with having control than with love. They are a reaction to our anxiety, rather than a connect to a truly steadying point.

If we pick a truly stable drishti, we will find ourselves keeping our balance more effectively. We will be able to thus move deeper into the experience of life rather than continually falling over and having to pick ourselves up.

What is truth? Love. Peace. When we focus on the truth that is love, we become incredibly stable. Experience proves it.

Love is stabilising. It shifts us out of the instability of fear.

Creating a life you love is a choice

We need to make our choices from love if we are to create a life that we love. We need to continually choose loving thoughts. We need to continually create the love that we want to experience.

Love must be created. Our ability to experience love must be created. Love is always there. But our ability to see what is there already is a creative act. As creative beings, we need to offer ourselves the entry point into love continually. Connecting to love is a profoundly creative state of being in the world.

Creating an experience of love requires the intention to create from love and to create what is loving. Our every choice needs to be based in love if we are to create a life we love.

This is possible when we make love our first priority and our consistent point of focus.

Our lack of integrity creates a lack of peace. To be ignorant is to be a human being at war with itself. One day we live one variety of truth, and the next day we are called towards another. Creating focus in our thoughts – having a focal point – allows us to achieve harmony through the integrity that focus brings.

Where we focus our thoughts to gain stability is dictated by habit. Our habitual thoughts are completely unique to each person. They reflect our unique fears and life experience. If we want to connect to the stabilizing power of love, then we will need to make love our new habitual focal point.

To do so, it’s important to know what love really means.

You can’t earn love.

If you have to earn it, it’s not love.

Ask the rich. Ask the famous. Ask the beautiful. Do they feel more loved? Almost never. If they do feel loved, it’s because someone sees their essence – the value in their being – rather than being caught up in the advantages of their attributes.

We can slave our entire lives trying to earn love. We can conform to every ideal of perfection in order to win our own love. We can obsess over every standard of excellence in order to earn the love of the world around us. Earning is hard work compared to creating. Earning love is tragically impossible, try as we might.

This is what most people do. It’s a tragically inefficient approach. It is, ironically, a highly unloving way to spend your life: pursuing love by trying to control people into loving you, while neglecting the joy of creating.

Love cannot be earned. You cannot control someone’s thoughts about you and expect them to experience authentic love. They might admire you. They might want something from you. Your attention, money, sex. But they won’t love you.

When your objective is to earn someone’s love, you don’t love them. You value instead their attention andor their willingness to offer you money, sex and affection.

Our ideas about love are wrong. We believe we need to conform more to perfect standards. We believe we need to prove our worth. We need someone to choose us and prove our worth too us. We think love is something we can get from people by controlling how they see us.

We were trained to believe that this is how love works – that love is earned – and we were gullible enough to not know any better.

Rather than suffering in our failures to earn love, we can choose to be the creators of the love we seek. We can make it our habit to create rather than consume. And we don’t need anyone’s permission but our own.

Our lovability is actually intrinsic in our being. All people deserve love. No person deserves more love than anyone else. Your experience of love in your lifetime will have nothing to do with how successful you seem to be.

Our inability to love all people and things comes from ignorance.

Love guides us to our highest human potential. Love is truth, and without it, we feel the pain of living a lie. Love is our essence, because at our essence, we are divine. We need love to return to what we really are and to realise our truth. Love reconnects us to our deepest truth. Our love connects us with who we really are in our souls, and it allows us to see others for who they really are in their essence also.

And the only way to connect to your being – to the essence of who you really are – is to actively love yourself and to actively release what isn’t you and doesn’t honour you and isn’t loving to you at the deepest level.

Irrespective of your talents, brilliance and accomplishments, the inability to love yourself will forever undermine your ability to take pleasure in yourself and your life. No achievement can ever compensate for a lack of positive regard for yourself and your unique gifts, abilities and inabilities.

Our ability to receive and give love is determined by how much love we are able to create in ourselves and how much love we can connect to. It has nothing to do with winning love. Love emanates from our being. It flows through us. It is not something we can win and hoard. We simply connect to it by connecting to our souls, and connecting to authentic love connects us to our souls also. This is the state of being authentic – of being what you really are.

Love is our responsibility. We are responsible for whether or not we experience love. Rarely will anyone step in and choose us in the ways we would like them too. This isn’t our fault. It just isn’t the way it works. People will choose us for a little while and then they will un-choose us because they too don’t know how to love. We aren’t defective for not being able to win the love we need. Real love cannot be won.

To blame others for not loving us is disempowering. It distracts us from our responsibility for creating love. We are here to create, not to just consume. To dwell on what is missing is to avoid the task of creating what is necessary.

Just as the parent who is born without arms cannot be blamed for not being able to lift up their child, a person who has no love within them cannot be blamed for not having any to give away. Our world so far might not have been loving, but we are always about to change that the moment we decide to make love the focus of our life experience.

As soon as we are old enough to take responsibility for our lives, we are old enough to take responsibility for our love.

Creating love through the habit of loving thoughts

If love becomes our most habitual thought, it will also become our dominant life experience.

Love is a choice. Choices are made easier if they are already a habit for us.

Habits start with deciding that something is important enough for it to deserve our full attention.

People who “naturally” love life pick loving thoughts naturally. Love is already their habit.

It is loving to train your brain. It is loving to discipline your mind so that it supports you. Learning to meditate is a form of training your mind that is loving. Learning to make self-love your instantaneous mental habit is profoundly loving.

Praticing your connection to love

Stop for a moment to let yourself inhale. Close your eyes. Allow yourself to experiment with a new way of being in the world.

Now take a deep breath in. Imagine you are breathing in a deep breath of pure love. Hold the love in your lungs. Allow it to fill your body. Feel yourself becoming love. Now, as you exhale, see yourself breathing out doubt, fear, worry. Watch it flow out.

Keep breathing like this for a few minutes.

Experience your body shift into the vibration of love. This is what it feels like to live from a higher state of consciousness.

Love-consciousness is always waiting for us to connect. All it takes is the desire to act and the action. If we habitually connect, the connection becomes increasingly effortless.

Love is there waiting for us, as ample as oxygen. We just need to let ourselves connect and believe that we can connect. We simply need to let ourselves breath it in.

Instead we tend to hold our breath and tell ourselves: I don’t deserve to let in this love unless I earn the right to inhale. It’s a false belief, however pervasive it might be.

Love as our mantra

The process of growth is, in my experience, explained rather perfectly in the experience of meditation. This is natural, because meditation is an efficient means of training your brain.

We start our meditation following a mantra that we will inevitably soon forget. But rather than being unhelpful, forgetting our mantra allows us to then return to our mantra and go into a deeper state of meditation. It is the forgetting – the going off track – that helps the most in going deeper along our path.

To lament this natural process is to misunderstand learning and life itself, the process of going deep and then coming up for air so that we then might go deeper still. Our errors are the very currency of our growth.

Love can be our mantra, a rosary, a prayer, a habit to which we can return at any moment. It can be our every inhalation. It can replace our fearful thoughts when we have trained our mind to connect to love not fear.

We will forget to love. Our habit will slip. With each forgetting to love, we can simply return to it, learning more about love and thereby going deeper in our love.

Love can only flow from within us. It can only be created consciously. There is no situation that doesn’t deserve the opportunity for us to create love and bring love to it.

If we want to let love flow, then it is a mantra we need to be reciting constantly within our hearts. It is a habitual way of seeing the world and thereby being in the world.

We can, in good conscience, say I love you to ourselves many times throughout the day. We can silently say “I love you” to every person who passes us as we walk down the street. We can forget to say I love you for weeks on end, and then again we can remember and return to our mantra, going deeper into the love. This can be our habit. There is no rule against it.

This connection to love is something we need to constantly choose, because without deliberately choosing love, love will elude us.

Only we are responsible for how much love we experience.

tim robisonMost of the time we have no clue about what is really necessary or valuable for us.

Because of this uncertainty, we seek what we think we need in the conventional places and end up being disappointed. We seek it in beauty or security or status, and continue to be irked by whatever we feel is missing.

But the thing I do understand is this: when something isn’t – when you don’t have something you think you need or want – you can love it and accept it and be grateful for it exactly as it isn’t. I learnt this initially, reluctantly, from Byron Katie and her book Loving What Is. The concept is an affront to my ego.

How can we deliberately choose to love what isn’t, and find peace in the absence of what we only think we need?

When we believe something is missing, we can stop and calm down. We can then use Byron Katie’s four questions to consider the truth about this apparent lack and our fears about it.

– Is it true that I need this? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)

– Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)

– How do you react, what happens, when you believe that I need this thing?

– Who would you be without the thought?


“It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful. The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.”

– St Francis of Assisi – 

All things are beautiful, but that beauty is often hidden. Being able to assume this beauty is a habit and an art. It requires training.

We can learn not to need possessions, status, security when we see that their absence might be far more beautiful than their presence.We can learn not to need others to agree with us if we are prepared to see disagreement as potentially beautiful. We can learn not to need others to praise us when their criticisms become beautiful to us.

The idea that we need things to appear instantly agreeable is an illusion. All that we really need is to be what we are, and that being is love: loving what is and isn’t, and seeing the beauty in both.

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IMAGE VIA PHOTOGRAPHER TIM ROBISON

http://www.charlotteabramow.com/

So Kamal Ravikant turns up at Renaissance Weekend to talk to a group of leaders from the world of business, government, science and the media. What does he share with them?

He explains that since he started telling himself “I love myself” as a mantra, meditating on the words for seven minutes a day while listening the Clair de Lune, and even looking for minutes at a time into a mirror to repeat these words, his life has become magical.

Love is magical, isn’t it? A life filled with love becomes a life filled with magic.

Kamal manages somehow to give the power of self-affirmation a distinctly modern edge. His long hair and black t-shirt certainly don’t hurt.

But to be clear, but this is Louise Hay’s exact same message, but somehow refocused and made fresh for entrepreneurs and for men and for modern seekers of the love that is so obviously missing from all our lives. Kamal cleverly distills Louise’s message down to a single, powerful mantra: “I love myself”, and lets everything align itself around that. It’s a powerful refocusing, and it works.

I am love is also a good mantra. And I love you works well too, from experience.

Inspired by Kamal I’ve been doing the I love myself mantra now solidly for two weeks, and I have to admit, it’s been a really great two weeks. Like, maybe the best two weeks I can remember for a long time.

But how does this love mantra even work?

“The goal here is to create a groove deeper than the ones laid down over the years that create disempowering feelings. They took time as well. Some we’ve had since childhood. Which is why this requires a focused commitment.”

Inspired by the power of this message, I’m currently  writing a book on self-love of my own, developing the ideas and combining them with all the other ideas on self-love that have helped me so greatly over the last seven years. There are so many important things to say on this topic, and yet still only a handful of really good books exist on the point. Kamal’s book falls easily within my top three sources of inspiration, along with works by Albert Ellis  and Carl Rogers.

The key point when it comes to making something happen in your life is selecting yourself as worthy and able of creating it for yourself. No one is going to come along and select you to become an artist or art dealer or florist, for instance: you need to select yourself and give yourself the necessary permission and support. James Altucher fleshes this idea out in a very inspiring, entertaining way in his book Choose Yourself.

The other thing that we all need is a focal point in our lives. In yoga, a point of focus – a drishti – is the thing that stops you from wobbling over and falling when you’re in a difficult pose. Love is, I feel, the ultimate focal point. It is the ultimate drishti.

I know that any time I’ve done anything good and valuable for myself, it’s always come from giving myself permission and jumping straight in. I can see now that filling my life with love and the power that comes with it is something I also need to actively select for myself. It’s a liberation.

And so the crucial ingredient in self-love is choosing love for yourself. Self-love is powerful because it makes it effortless to choose things for ourselves that are loving to us and which reinforce that experience of love in our lives. Love emanates and creates more love.

“As you love yourself, life loves you back,” Kamal writes. “I don’t think it has a choice either. I can’t explain how it works, but I know it to be true.”

The book is blissfully short and shouldn’t take you more than an hour. An hour very well spent, I promise. And remember, I love you. And I love myself too, on repeat, ad infinitum. It works.

Photograph by Charlotte Abramow