What Life Is All About...by Leo Buscaglia
Published in 1972
We can learn more about God, who is Love, by learning more about the nature of love as it is experienced in our daily lives. Many of the observations in this book will provide good insights into the nature of love. In conjunction with the biblical injunctions to make love the primary motivation of our lives, this book can help to give us practical ways to live out the commandment of love. [Insights arising from the contents of the book, though not contained in the book, are presented in square brackets.]
- Love is a Learned Phenomenon — No one automatically knows how to love. We learn by example from our family. [This is why we do not automatically fulfill the commandment of Jesus to love one another. Even the examples set by our family members imperfectly demonstrate love to us. We must learn about the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by meditating on the examples set by Jesus and the Father.]
- Man Needs to Love and Be Loved — Lack of love leads to neuroses and psychoses and even death. The fear of not being loved leads people to conform to societal norms rather than being themselves. [God is love. God is Life. The fear of lacking love is the fear of death. In Christ, nothing can separate us from the Love that we need.]
- A Question of Definition — The definition of love changes and is enlarged as a person grows in love, but there are certain characteristics of love which may serve as a basis for discussion. Love is learned. Love is lived. Love must be acted out. Love cannot be required; it can only be freely given. Love can never be in bondage; it is always free. Love always has open arms; it does not grasp. Love is an act of faith [so faith works by love (Galatians 5:6)]. Love gives with no expectation of reward, but there is joy, growth, and self-discovery in the act of loving. Love must be intentional. Love recognizes that each individual grows at a unique rate and is therefore patient and does not judge an individual based on their present level of development. However, love is not passive in waiting for others to grow. Instead it is active, always offering itself and its energies and ideas, making them available for the growth and enlargement of others. Love freely expresses feelings. Love is not lived in the past or future, it can only be expressed in what you do right now.
- Love Knows No Age — It is never too late to learn to live in Love. Change is possible, but it requires an active participation in the process of change. We must become dissatisfied with the quality of life that we experience as a result of not living in Love. We then must then make a quality decision to learn to walk in Love. Simply willing ourselves to change will not be enough; we must then begin the process of learning: study, practice, succeed or fail, analyze, correct and try again, study some more. With an infinite potential to grow in Love, this learning process will be one of constant change and improvement.
- Love Has Many Deterrents — Love is not stopped by deterrents [nothing can separate us from the love of God], but we are often stopped from walking in Love by those deterrents. Some of the deterrent include the idea that other people are too hard to love or not worth loving, or the fear that loving is too risky, or the idea that love is not practical, or too much focus on the fact that there are too many people with too many differences for love to really make an impact, or a narrow view of love that is satisfied with loving only those friends and family members who are close at hand, or the laziness, lack of motivation, or fear that prevents many people from pursuing any type of change. [All these deterrents are fear-based. Love itself is the solution to all these deterrents, because perfected Love casts out all fear.]
- To Love Others You Must First Love Yourself — This is not ego-centered vanity and pride; truly loving yourself means seeing yourself accurately [in this sense it is also true humility], appreciating the unique person you are, and looking forward with excitement at the vast potential for future development. Our uniqueness presents us with many wonderful possibilities, but fear of being different causes us to settle for the sameness of the status quo. [God has a grand purpose for each of us, but we often limit ourselves by thinking that we are worthless. We all have great potential (especially when God is working in us), but self-defeating thoughts prevent us from moving past the twisted view of ourselves that fear has created.]
- To Love You Must Free Yourself of Labels — The words we use can affect our ability to love. Negative, degrading words can separate us from others and hinder us from seeing them as lovable. We are controlled by the words we choose — either joyful, pleasant, and good or caustic, dreary, tedious, and lifeless. [You can have what you say (Mark 11:23).]
- Love Involves Responsibility — We have a duty to love everyone. Dereliction of this duty leads to loneliness and despair. Accepting this responsibility is a delightful adventure in mystery and growth. Responsible love creates joy. Responsible love requires us to express our sorrows and joys. It is accepting and understanding. It is constantly learning and changing. It is flexible and empathic, waiting patiently while others grow and learn.
- Love Recognizes Needs — We all have physical and emotional needs. Love recognizes those needs. [We are dependent and should not feel ashamed because of it. It is not selfish to look to God to provide those things that we need.] We need to be seen, heard, and touched. Love is attentive in every way.
- Love Requires One to Be Strong — Love is directly at odds with the world. In order to walk in love, you must have an inner strength [faith] that holds a steady course in spite of all opposition. Evil in the world [the curse] emanates from suffering people, but love is stronger. Love overcomes evil by loving those who are held in its sway (agents and victims).
- Love Offers No Apology — When we walk in Love, boldly sharing our convictions and feelings, we make ourselves vulnerable to ridicule. But that is the heart of Love. [Fear of being hurt separates us from one another. Love casts out that fear and allows us to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable in order to share Love with others.]