*This is part of a series of articles covering virtues, and how they can help you live a better life. So far, this series has covered the Cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, and theological virtues of faith and hope, which can be found at their respective links.
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
While writing this series, I never really felt compelled to break the routine formula of calling it "A Guide To Life: (Insert Virtue Here)," but this one felt like it deserved to be something special. Mostly because love is supposed to be something special.
The modern world has made the definition of love something much more... perverse than it is supposed to be. More on that later, but this part of the series is still going to stick to the original format of the series, so first off:
What is Love?
Love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.
LOVE ISN'T SEX
Don't get me wrong, you can have sexual desire for someone you love, but love is so much more than just sex.
Think about it like this:
Odds are that when you were younger, you loved the person who raised you. Whether that was a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or some other guardian, you had some kind of love for them because of how much they cared for you.
Why would you let any other love in your life be different?
You can't call something love when you don't have a deep connection with someone. The important word in that last sentence being "connection" because you love doesn't have to be sexual or even romantic. Friends, family, and even strangers can be people who we show love to. Seriously, you can show love to a complete stranger because we all share a personal tie.
We are all human.
So how does love help you live a better life?
Love brings us all together, so having love in your life can help everyone around you. When you help others, most people then have the desire to help others including you. Even if you help someone and they do nothing in return for anyone else, then you can still sleep well knowing that you did what was right (prudence) and just (justice).
When you live a life full of love, then you just live a happier life because love leads to positivity and hate leads to negativity.
Don't believe me, think of someone you love. When you thought about that person, did it make you happier or sadder? Did you smile when the thought of them cross your mind, or did you get upset just thinking about them?
If you genuinely love them, your day just probably got a little bit better doing that. Now imagine living your life with that feeling. Obviously, you won't feel the same kind of love for every person you ever meet, but when you spread love, you spread positivity.
The more positivity in the world, the better the world is.
So how do I gain love?
Before going into how to gain love, I think it's important to establish the different kinds of love mentioned by the Greeks that are held by most scholars as the forms of love today.
There are seven of them, and those are:
1. Eros - Romantic Love
2. Philia - Friendship
3. Storge - Family
4. Agape - Sacrificial or Universal
5. Ludas - Fun or Playful
6. Pragma - Practical
7. Philautia - Self-Love
To gain love, we have to focus on these concepts because not all kinds of love are the same. Focusing on any of these can strengthen your overall sense of love, but if you want to improve any specific aspect of your life, then that's the form of love you need to focus on.
If your relationship with your family is strained, focus on storge, because improving that aspect of love can improve your whole life. The more you love, the better you get at love, and the better all of your relationships will be. When you struggle with one form of love, then it hurts your ability to love as a whole because you love with your entire heart and soul.
It's never easy to find it in your heart to love everyone, but the less you love, the harder it gets to love. When you spread love, then you get better at love, and you help others get better at love.
When you spread love, you spread positivity. When you spread positivity, the world becomes more positive. When the world is more positive, the world is better, and that is why "the greatest of these is love."