Sometimes we have the attitude of, "I don't need anybody else. I can do it alone!"
Ahuv literally means "being beloved." Because whether with family relationships, business partners or friends, the human need to be loved is deep and natural. We need it like oxygen.
Of course, that love has to be earned. King Solomon said: "As water reflects a face, so does a person's heart." In other words, if you project coldness, you will attract coldness; if you give out warmth, you will attract warmth.
When people love you, they want to help you become wise and wealthy. They'll invite you to social functions, and patronize your business. They'll give you good advice – and eagerly accept yours. You will succeed in all areas of life.
What Do You Love About Others?
Let's start with a definition of love: "Taking pleasure in another's virtues." Hence the expression "to know him is to love him."
Make a list of the people you love. Study it and ask yourself: What about them do I take pleasure in? After you see the virtues, you have the basis for a true love relationship.
In return, to be loved by others, you must become virtuous in their eyes. Do for them what you'd want them to do for you. This will identify you as a source of pleasure – and everyone loves those who bring them pleasure!
A general rule is to be happy and upbeat. It's a drain to be around people who mope and complain about every little thing. Be full of joy and vitality – and you'll be well-loved!
All parents love their children. So why is it that many children feel rejected? Because "feeling" love toward others is only a part of it. We also have to "communicate" that love. Many children only hear their parents' anger and criticisms – and therefore get the wrong message.
To communicate love, you have to show you understand, appreciate and take pleasure in the other person's essence. Stop and analyze the good they do, and stop focusing on their flaws. We often show more courtesy and attention to strangers!
Push yourself to show people that you appreciate them. Practice saying: "I like what you said." "I'm glad you came." "You did that perfectly."
But don't confuse compliments with flattery (i.e. insincere praise). Judaism forbids flattery because it is misleading and manipulative. Be sure you express honest appreciation, not just to get on the person's good side.
Giving is the Key
The most effective way to be loved is to give to others. When you give physical, material, emotional, spiritual pleasure – with no strings attached – they will love you.
In practice, how does someone become a "giver"? The answer is simple: Start giving.
Some people say "I can only give to someone I love." This is incorrect. The Hebrew word for "give," hav, is the same root as ahava, meaning "love." The Jewish idea is that giving is what leads to love. When I give to you, I have invested a part of myself. You then become more precious to me and I love you.
This is why parents love their children most of all. It is their greatest investment.
Resolve in your mind, and your heart, that helping others will be part of your life's philosophy.
A few suggestions: Visit patients at the local hospital. Invite friends to a Shabbat dinner. Volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter. Or do the dishes at home even when it's not your turn. Emulate God and be a giver. Do it with zeal. And inspire those around you to do the same.
Your Pleasure Is Their Pleasure
Giving others pleasure provides us with a tremendous source of pleasure. Giving pleasure gives our life purpose and meaning, because we see the positive impact we can make.
So why don't we do it all the time?
Because we're too busy seeking our own pleasure, wrapped up in our narcissistic envelope.
Get out of your own small universe. Reach out. A simple "hello" lifts a person's spirits, and shows that you care. Simple things can make a huge difference!
Particularly in a marriage, giving is the foundation of the relationship. When two people are focused on giving to one another, the relationship flows in two directions – connecting, linking and forging the bond. But when both are focused on taking, then the dynamic is pulling in opposite directions – creating strain and tension.
Unfortunately today, many people get married with the intention of taking more pleasure from life, not giving it. How long can a marriage survive like that?
Love and Admiration
Distinguish between "love" and "admiration." Being admired means to be respected for your accomplishments. But being loved means being appreciated for the essence of who you are – blemishes included!
Although achievements may gain you admiration, it's not going to gain you love. Anyone who seeks the admiration of others usually loses it. But being loved by others lasts a lifetime.
Fear of Intimacy
A prerequisite to being loved is the inner decision to allow yourself to be loved.
Why do people veer away from intimacy?
- A person may be afraid of getting hurt. (Once you lower your defenses, you are open to being hurt.)
- A person may be afraid of getting to know himself better. (If people get too close to us, they force issues to surface.)
- A person may simply want to be left alone.
If you sense any of these issues, make it a priority to work them out. Until you do, you're pushing away the love of others.
The Greatest Gift of All
The greatest gift you can give to someone is wisdom. A pair of socks is worn for a year, but the right insight can change someone's life forever.
From now on, whenever you learn a piece of wisdom, think how you can apply it to give someone else pleasure.
Don't forget to "gift wrap" the wisdom – i.e. focus on the person to whom you are speaking and make it relevant to him. Don't bore people, aggravate them, or mutter the words straight and cold. Even if you're repeating an idea that's "old," convey it with the same freshness as the day you first heard it.
At the very least, don't give other people pain. Don't criticize and say: "It's for your own good." Treat human beings as if they're real. Think of who they are and what they need. Be friendly. Help them out. Share their problems.
The flip side of this is if you really want more wisdom for yourself, then be a good student. Pay attention and grow. This gives your teacher pleasure, and he/she will want to teach you more.
Why is "Being Loved" a Way to Wisdom?
- Giving others pleasure is your pleasure.
- Seeing the virtues in others is one of the greatest virtues you can exhibit. If you love others this way, they will love you in return.
- The first place to start showing appreciation is with your own family.
- Love brings unity. And unity is power.