It's not easy, but it's always worth it.
There are really only two human emotions: love and fear.
All other emotions stem from those two basic emotions. Love is unconditional acceptance and the willingness to go beyond oneself for our own benefit (self-love) or the benefit of another. Fear is the absence of love, just as judgment is the withholding of love.
Couples, families, peers in the workplace, community members in neighborhoods ... they all express both the dynamic of fear and love in their relationships with one another.
Love comes in two forms, either conditional or unconditional. Either it's offered and received freely and openly, or it's possessive and demanding. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful and healing gifts we give to others (and it fosters inner peace and happiness, as well).
To choose love is to choose from your heart, not just your brain and ego. The heart is one of the most powerful muscles in the body; its electromagnetic field is sixty times more powerful than that of the brain.
There is a concept called "heart coherence", which means, being heart focused and centered, being in the thoughts and emotions of acceptance, appreciation and compassion toward ourselves and others — the body and mind are in alignment and cooperation.
Research by the Institute of HeartMath, shows that when an individual is in "heart coherence" toward themselves and others, their brain wave patterns and biorhythm are affected in positive ways. And other people near the subjects were also positively affected by the person’s "heart coherence."
In other words ... choosing love boosts your physical health and your mental well-being. Here are five specific ways how:
1. Unconditional love helps create a more peaceful world.
Numerous studies show the healing and peaceful power of love. In August 2013, during the height of Syrian conflict over chemical weapons and possible US military involvement, James Twyman a peace troubadour went to Syria and Egypt to perform a concert and pray for love and peace. During his time in Syria, he had over 100,000 people from all over the world sending love and prayers for peace. Less than two months after this event, the United Nations averted US military involvement on the issue by signing the Syrian disarmament plan.
James again went into Syria on February 1, 2016 near Isis territory to perform another peace concert, and again invited people from around the globe to send love and pray for peace, through the energetic highway. Several million people from around the world, myself included, participated in a synchronized prayer and meditation with James for peace in that region. We'll see if another miracle "in the name of love" occurs.
2. Love helps boost your spirit.
Choosing unconditional love, acceptance, gratitude, and compassion generates a higher energy within us.
When someone is being judgmental, conditional and demanding with you, it doesn't feel good. The person's energy is draining and toxic, like they're a vampire sucking the positive energy right out of you.
But when you surrounded yourself with people who are unconditional, accepting, compassionate and positive toward you, your spirit lifts and you usually feel warm and fuzzy inside. You want people like that (and their upbeat energy) around you.
Unconditional love promotes trust and connection with others. It allows more openness and vulnerability in life experiences, so you don't need to hide from yourself or others.
3. Love is our natural instinct.
To love and be loved is a basic human desire. Hearing someone say "I love you," is powerful to the human heart and brain. It puts us in a blissful state. Telling family members and friends that you love them can change your mood and behavior quickly.
The process of falling in love, releases the chemical dopamine in the brain to create feelings of pleasure, ecstasy, jealousy or obsession. Studies by Dr. Helen Fisher and others on romantic love, shows that the brain produces high levels of dopamine for a period of time, creating obsessive thoughts and behaviors about the beloved.
The brain wiring and chemicals involved with love are also intended to create the healthy bonding attachment needed for both for mating and raising children.
4. Love challenges you to grow into your best self.
Love will push every button, test your values, try every ounce of your patience, challenge every strength, and trigger every wound and weakness. Above all, love is an invitation to freedom and inner peace by freeing your mind from unhealthy attachments and misperceptions.
Choosing love, especially in intimate relationships, offers a pathway to develop a high level of understanding. It elicits the willingness to accept each other as you are and to have compassion towards yourself and others. It helps you find the strength to forgive or reconcile mistakes and differences.
5. Love is the only choice that leads to real happiness.
Love is what makes up the universe, it’s what ties all things together, making two parts into one. Love includes, while fear excludes. Unconditional love is the ultimate healer and restorer. To choose love, is to say "Yes" to ourselves and to life.
Love is living with an open heart and an expanded mind, which seeks to become the best version of itself, being of service to others, and treat others and our planet with respect and reverence.
Love of self and toward others, is what makes the world a more peaceful place. Yes, let’s just be love and choose love, because love is truly all there is.
David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of "Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey." His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. Visit his website.