“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brené Brown
Have you heard the story of the ugly duckling?
Well, there never was an ugly duckling; he was actually a swan whose real beauty had not been recognized by him or by others.
All of us may or may not be ugly ducklings, but we are totally worthy of being loved, accepted, and cherished just as we are.
Ultimately we are all trying to do the best we can with our current knowledge, awareness, and understanding. But we lose our way, and the first thing that goes is our ability to love ourselves and others.
I began to write this article on a train to London. The driver had informed us that our train was subject to long delays. My initial reaction was something along the lines of: oh no, here we go again!
Then at the next station, I found out that there had been a fatality with someone hit by a train at that station.
Immediately, my heart sank for the family of the killed person—so what if I was late getting home? There was one person who was never going to get home, never mind late. And the lives of his/her loved ones will never be the same again.
This is yet another stark reminder of why we need to make the most of each day; we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Yet we all go through life as if there is always going to be a tomorrow for us. We squander our precious time and energy on things that really don’t matter at the end of the day.
We put our lives on hold and we spend so much of each day on those things that we cannot control or impact. For example, here in the UK most of us moan and groan about our unreliable weather, and yet there is not much we can do anything about it!
We try and control our relationships and how people behave around us—and yet we rarely look at how we are impacting them and what needs to change in us.
We want things done our way and our way only. My way or no way!
Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but what does really matter in our lives?
Maybe we are all imperfect. Maybe we are wired for struggle. And yes, maybe life sucks sometimes. But what really matters in life?
What really matters in life is love. Simple.
Love is the most amazing thing in our lives. It is what makes us human, what makes life worth living. The size of our homes, bank balances, the beauty of our spouse, the speed of our car—all these things pale into insignificance when we face the splendor of what it is that makes us tick.
Love does not make the world go around; it simply makes the ride worthwhile!
Love is not the highly commercialized circus we see on Valentine’s Day. It is much deeper and much more profound than sending someone a dozen roses at hugely inflated prices. It is much more than candlelit dinners and fancy chocolates.
We remember the sheer joy of children playing and the love in their eyes. Our hearts skip a beat, we get goose pimples, and we get teary eyed when we witness an act of sheer love—pure, unadulterated, and unconditional. Such moments literally take our breath away.
Can you recall a time in your life when you were blown away by such an act of love?
Remember how amazing you felt and how everything in the world seemed just right.
I can look back in my life and I can still remember the wonder I felt when I saw a friend’s baby son, only 20 minutes after he was born.
Another time, I felt so much unconditional love and joy when visiting some orphans; indeed this first time that I experienced unconditional love changed my life forever.
At the same time, when I look back on my life, there have been so many unloving things I have done that I now regret. Such as getting angry with my young nephew and mildly smacking him, or getting really impatient with my mother for her slowness, or getting angry with my late father for his quirky habits.
If love is all that matters, where did the love go in these dire moments, which I still regret?
The key to bringing more love into the world and especially in our relationships is greater self-awareness. This brings us more calmness and opens us up to greater compassion.
You too can have authentic relationships that are heart-centred and full of love—and here are my simple tips to help you bring more love into the world:
1. Next time you are in a potential conflict or disagreement with someone, ask yourself: does this really matter?
Will I even be talking about this in the months and years to come!?
2. Take some time out—get away from the situation and let your emotions calm down.
Otherwise, as in my examples above, you might end up doing something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.
3. Put yourself in the other person’s place and ask how you would want to be treated if you were them.
Then treat them exactly the same way, if not even better.
4. See each person in your life as a young, vulnerable, helpless baby.
They all were at one time. Show them the same love and awe you would show toward an infant.
5. Look for the highest good in the other person.
Everyone is doing the best they can, so help them be the best they can be! Indeed, in any dealings with other people, always look for the highest good of all involved.
6. Learn from any experiences where a relationship has deteriorated.
Ask yourself: What lessons can I use to do things differently next time?
7. Look for guidance from your mentors and people you look up to help you resolve any relationship issues.
What would your role models say? What would Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Lori Deschene say?
8. Finally, the most important thing of all is to have a life mission to bring more love into the world.
Ask yourself these two key questions anytime you are in a conflict:
- What would love do?
- How can I bring more love into the world?
The Way Forward
There never was an ugly duckling—just a beautiful swan that didn’t recognize his own beauty. Despite being teased and harassed by the ducks, he retained his dignity and one day woke up to his own beauty.
In the same way, we are all beautiful swans—we just have to wake up! And we wake up by awakening to all the love in us and around us, and then doing our utmost to bring more love into all our relationships.
May you continue to bring more love into the world; after all, love is all that matters.
Photo by Steve Snodgrass