“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville
With the rise of social media and ingenious marketing teams across business industries, there is little doubt to believe what humans desire is connection and a sense of belonging. The infinite number of selfies, the heart racing thrill of every “like”, and the sensations of reading and talking about any “comment” in real time with others demonstrates how individuals are longing to be seen. Then, with marketers they tie human nature’s desires into their products with false promises of attainment in order to sell and profit. They cunningly advertise their products such as scents, fashion, food, and gadgets to name a few with notions of family, friends, romantic love, happiness, and fulfillment. As a collective unit we have a voracious appetite for warmth, understanding, and acceptance that we confuse it with material and informational consumption due to marketing, media, and group think.
Coupled with connection is the common human desire to feel loved. Individuals want to feel missed and to feel wanted. There are various kinds of love. Love exists between family members, friends, romantic partners, individuals and passions, individuals and pets, and self-love. Love in general seems misunderstood. Just as with happiness, love is not an end destination, rather it is the process. Love occurs every day around us, if we seize it. Giving a complete stranger a genuine smile, a thoughtful compliment, or pure company for conversation’s sake are manifestations of love. Showing others care has a way of turning around and touching our heart with love. Live with love and feel the difference.
Then, with self-love many attempt to either bypass this starting point, do not realize its significance, or do not know how to manage or create it. Self-love is required to enable feeling for someone else. Learning how to love unconditionally starts with the self. Self-awareness is key again. Recognizing virtues and vices and accepting them in oneself translates into knowing others more deeply by accepting their virtues and vices unconditionally. When we meet ourselves with trust, respect, and kindness, then we are able to transfer the same principles onto others.
As proposed by professor and psychiatrist Dr. David Burns in his book titled Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy additional love adds to happiness but it is not required or necessary to feel happy and fulfilled. Self-love and inward connection has the potential to suffice. Some individuals do not need others in their life to feel happy and fulfilled. They do not feel lonely until society via others and the entertainment industry, for example, conditions them to feel that way. However, they do not feel lonely because they do not have others in their lives, rather because they are met with that expectation everywhere that it becomes a burdensome weight.
No matter where we come from, who we are now, and where we are headed one thing seems imminent, which is that we are all in this together.