Tiny Wisdom: Who Do You Love?

“Once you have learned to love, you will have learned to live.” -Unknown

My high school vocal teacher said that “love” is the most beautiful word in the English language, so I should let it roll off my tongue like honey to make it thick, sweet and poignant.

So I did. I sang it deeply, slowly, and soulfully, though I never spoke the word. I came from a family that didn’t really express emotion, so I filed it away with all the things I wanted to say but didn’t.

When I started dating, I couldn’t wait to profess my love, long before I actually felt it. I said it at every chance I could get because that’s how often I wanted to hear it.

I wanted it to constantly roll like honey toward me, so I could feel warm, safe, and unconditionally accepted. I whispered it, mumbled it, yelled it, and even cried it, all while having no idea what it really felt like. It was my gift and my curse, wrapped in fear, insecurity, and need.

Over the years, I’ve put a lot of effort into learning to love myself and others; and in the process, I realized I wanted to say “I love you” a lot less and a lot more often. I wanted to say it less when I didn’t really mean it and more when I actually did.

I wanted to stop reciting it like a parrot to men who weren’t good for me, and start expressing it deeply, slowly, and soulfully to the people I really cared about.

So often in life, we avoid expressing our feelings in fear that it will be awkward. The first time I said I love you to my eight-years-younger brother, the word felt almost foreign. I felt uncomfortable mostly because I was afraid I’d make him feel that way.

Now I tell him every time we speak. I do the same with every other family member. And many of my friends. And even many of the people I engage with through this site. Why? Because life is too short to feel love and not express it.

Love is the most beautiful word in the English language—when it comes from a place of genuine care, affection, and appreciation.

Who do you love in your life, and when is the last time you told them?

Photo by Saucy Salad

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • jr cline

    I tell some of the people I love that I love them every time I talk with them.  Others, not so much. 

  • André Vieira

    I’m still struggling to use that word. As you said, it feels extremely awkward to say it. Thank you.

    P.S – I’m starting to think when will come the day where you’ve used all Buddha pictures on the internet 😀

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful!  I share love readily and openly; when I *love* something or a specific quality in someone or am touched I say so. However, in my life, “love” was a word given to me on auto-pilot without much thought, so I learned from that the importance of presence in sharing love–the words matter, but it is also the follow up to the words, the presence of being, that matter as well.  It is important to me to be fully present as I relate; whether online or offline.  I do think, though, it is not “how” we choose to express love, but *that* we choose to express it:) 

  • Jomeara002

    Beautifully written.  I understand perfectly when you tell some, even though you love each other but have never verbally expressed this love because of a variety of reasons, that you do in fact love them, it makes many uncomfortable.  I just tell them anyway.  If they love me, they understand!

  • “Love” is one of those word that means many things to many people. I have a few definitions myself.

    One is: “I want you in my life and I want to be in yours.”

    Another is: “I feel an honest and truthful connection between us.” 

    A third is, “When I’m with you, I feel I have permission to love myself.”

    The forth is: “I’m committed to help you in any way when you need me.”

    One or more of these conditions will create a loving bond. When I have all four working with someone, as I do with my wife, I can trust that love to weather the ups and downs of change. So far it has.

    One thing though, Not one of these definitions are unconditional. Once lying or disloyalty contaminates the commitments, the love recedes. Not because I make a conscious effort to make that happen, but because my human sense of preservation and survival kicks in.

    I avoid pain, and anyone who consciously inflicts it on me more than a few times. That’s why KINDNESS and EMPATHY are crucial ingredients within the mix of love. At least for me.

    Take care Lori. You deserve to be loved.


  • Linnea Hulten

    true, but so hard..

  • I agree joy! I think just being able to express our love is a wonderful thing. =)

  • Good point! I think really, everyone likes hearing that they are loved when it is true.

  • You are most welcome. And yes, I think you are right! I’ve gone through so many of the images on Flickr…One day, I may need to start taking my own!

  • Thanks so much Irv. Your definitions really resonated with me. I feel all those types of love with my boyfriend!

  • Elle

    For me it’s all about the practice.  The practicing of loving my world and everything in it opens my heart to more love until I’m so filled with it that it’s easy to share in word and deed.  And my practice needs to be a daily one, so I don’t get rusty!

  • So true! I aim to practice love daily as well. =)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.
    (Helen Fisher. Why we love: the nature and chemistry of romantic love. 2004)

  • You’re most welcome. That’s fascinating about love being a survival instinct. I never really thought of it that way.