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Love is the strength we meet first in life. It is what allows us to connect and care deeply for one another. And we experience love in different ways: shared and reciprocated in a relationship; expressed through compassionate listening and engaging with others; and genuinely caring for others’ needs above one’s own.

Each of us embodies and experiences this strength of love in a unique way, and in this post, we’re going to help you understand love more deeply and how to practice it in your life.

What’s love got to do with it?

The love we’re talking about extends beyond the pitter-patter of the heart, chocolate kiss kind of love. There are four types of love, each with biological and evolutionary underpinnings:

  • Attachment love: parent for child; child for parent
  • Self love: appreciating and caring for yourself and your own needs
  • Companionate love: caring for friends and colleagues
  • Romantic love: spouse/partner/significant other

Understanding and practicing these four types of love can lead to a more fulfilled life. The research field of Positive Psychology, with a lead study by M. Seligman et. al. from the University of Pennsylvania, has scientifically validated the correlation between leveraging natural strengths and higher degrees of meaning, happiness, and purpose. In other words, learning how to support your strengths, like the strength of love, will lead you in the direction of a more fulfilled life.

I’m in. I want more love in my life. Now what?

Well, now that you’re aware of the potential of your strengths, it’s time to put it into practice. Below are four simple exercises you can use to exercise more love in your life.

  1. Practice the strength of attachment love through meaningful conversation.
  • At the dinner table or over the phone this week, spend time reconnecting with a family member. Discover what’s important to him or her since you last spoke. Take mental notes. Listen deeply.
  1. Practice the strength of self love through words of kindness and self care.
  • Before you get out of bed in the morning, write down a positive affirmation that you can repeat throughout the day. Write it in the present tense and keep it goal-oriented, as though it’s already been achieved. Some inspiration:
    • I love myself just the way I am.
    • I am grateful for my healthy mind and body.
    • I like the way I showed up in that meeting. That was the best me.
  1. Practice the strength of companionate love at work through compassionate listening.
  • Change your morning greeting into an opportunity for learning. Engage a coworker in conversation by asking questions that allow you to develop a deeper relationship.
    • If you ask, “What did you do this weekend?” and they answered, “I went hiking,” follow-up with questions that encourage conversation and interaction. Like:
      • Nice! Did you go with anyone?
      • What do you like most about hiking?
  1. Practice the strength of romantic love with your spouse or significant other by putting your partner’s needs first.
  • Rather than adding something to the infamous “Honey Do List”, ask your partner to partake in an activity that you know he or she loves. If a certain genre of music is their favorite, offer to spend a cozy evening together listening to those tunes.

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Leave us a note in the comments on how these exercises go, and we’ll enter you to win a $100 gift card!

with love, peach

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