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I was discussing love and what that might be with the human development seminar that I attend when I balked. My contention was that the love that they were waxing eloquently about was too internal and exclusive to them personally, and that for love to be meaningful it must be expressed toward someone, and absorbed by that other personality. I contended that there are quite a few things that must precede the expression of love, but they are all subsumed into existence when a person’s expression of love is accepted. When one’s thought or feeling is totally internal it is soon replaced by some other one, and that thought is gone forever, but when it is manifest externally and is observed by another it enters their world and becomes a fact of universal experience.

Internal events soon vanish from consciousness; unless they are being integrated into one’s character of automatic responses, habits, they are gone forever. Perhaps it is even worse for one’s character than just gone, because by not doing an appropriate external action in response to the thought, you are creating, or reenforcing, a habit of not responding to that motivating thought. If it was a good thing to have done, and you haven’t responded to it immediately you have reenforced your habit of not responding to that stimulus, and to that degree you have lost a part of your responsive life that could have been rewarding to you in your future.

All this intellectualizing can be ignored if you cultivate the habit of helping people with something they are doing. The help can be anything, and the smaller it is the more frequently it will be possible to act. When we have the intention to do these little helping acts we automatically pay closer attention to what the people in our environment are doing. These helpful acts can be done with physical things, but they can be done with verbal things too; such as helping a person expand on their spoken idea. That helping action is the opposite of typical conversations which are founded on arguing with the other person. You can spot these types of conversations because they often use the words “Yes, but …” and “No, because …” . The improv technique of responding with, “Yes, and …” moves a conversation along in a more friendly and creative way. Both of these forms of response require paying attention to the other person’s responses, so they both are good actions in the sense that they value the others statements and actions, and thus are validating them. That is why people whose relationship is based on arguing stay together; because fighting is a form of personal acknowledgment and validation. It not as pleasant as positive affirmation, but it’s something, and it is real emotion and thus it feels like real living.

However, a relationship based on watching for things the other person might want to do, and opening the way for them to get doing it, will be more pleasant and more fulfilling.