Can You Teach Yourself to Love?

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Are you so turned off by family troubles or crimes in the news that you’ve lost faith in people? Maybe you feel less empathy for others than you used to.

A woman we’ll call Margaret told us, “I feel completely drained this holiday season. I used to feel love and joy, but with my adult children doing crazy things, and my boss firing two of my favorite co-workers, I’ve lost my loving feelings!”

Margaret should keep in mind that love keeps us alive. It’s the most powerful thing there is.
But, love does require activity on your part. You create love and joy when you look for the good in all people and all situations.

“I came out of a bad marriage last year,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Jeanna. “But, I didn’t stop loving. I told myself I’d take my loving feelings with me. I left the spouse behind, but I took every ounce of love with me as I moved on.”

Love takes practice. It requires giving something to a situation.

If someone has fired co-workers you really liked, for example, call up your friends and say, “I’ll be glad to help you look for another job. Maybe you can find a better one.”

It’s very tempting to build up anger as you think about certain people. How could your daughter’s husband end up in jail _ a week before Christmas? How dare your niece get pregnant while she’s still in high school?

To keep activating love, try to look for the good in each challenging situation.
For instance, a man we know says his son’s arrest for drunken driving turned out to be a blessing. The son got into Alcoholics Anonymous. The son is now sober and doing well.

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