I’ve spent the past week in Puerto Rico at the semi-annual meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council.  This is a group of transformational leaders, formed by Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield, and includes John Gray, Paul Sheely, Joe Vitale, Steve Pavlina, and Stewart Emery.

We have a lot of workshops where we learn from each other, but mainly we just enjoy each other’s company.  Every six months when I arrive I feel as if I am coming home, because I am with people who have a similar vision, passion, and commitment in life: to improve the quality of people’s lives.

This past week I had an insight about love that I’d like to share with you.  Let me start at the beginning.

When I married Shelly almost 29 years ago she asked me why I loved her.  I answered her, “Just because I say so.”

She didn’t like this answer.  She wanted to know which qualities about her made me love her.  I kept insisting that I only loved her because I said so, not for any particular reason.

At some point I explained what I meant.  “If I love you for specific reasons, then my love is conditioned on you being a certain way.  If you stopped being that way or if you weren’t that way at a given time, I wouldn’t love you.  But if I love you just because I say so, then my love is unconditional and I can and will love you no matter what you do or don’t do.” I’ve repeated this to Shelly many times during the past 29 years and I think it’s finally okay with her.

As a result of this unconditional love, whenever I didn’t feel love toward Shelly at any given moment, I realized that I was not creating it and that it was up to me to figure out why and to start creating it again. I wasn’t blaming her for anything and I wasn’t waiting for her to change in some way.  That gave me complete control over the way I felt about her, in other words, there was not only nothing she had to do to make me love her, there was nothing she could do that would lead to me not loving her.

Now back to this past week’s meeting.  I noticed throughout most of the week that I had the experience of loving—deeply and profoundly—the 70 people who were there.  I noticed that I wasn’t loving them for any reason.  It was as if I was filled with love and I directed it toward whoever showed up in my space.  It was like being in an altered state of consciousness that felt so good that I wished it could be in it all the time.

I could tell you what I liked and admired about each of the people, but that isn’t why I loved them.  Because some of those qualities are more important to me than others, I enjoy spending time with some people more than others. But the love I felt this past week had nothing to do with those qualities.  (This is true about Shelly also; there are a lot of things about her I like and admire, and a lot of things we have in common, so I enjoy being with her more than anyone else.  She is not only my wife, she also is my best friend.)

I noticed that the love I felt made no distinction for gender; the love I experienced for men was the same as the love I felt for women.  I also noticed, however, that woman had an easier time returning the love than most of the men.  I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing, whereby most men have a harder time than women expressing feelings in general, especially love, and especially for other men.

Because the love I experienced was unconditional, it was independent of the response I got from the other person.  I didn’t feel more love for people who I experienced loved me back than I did for people who didn’t express love for me.

After the meeting was over I started reflecting on the love I had been feeling during the prior week and the love I feel for Shelly.

In Shelly’s case I was aware that I was generating the love I felt for her.  But I had always thought that the love I felt for others was accidental, in other words, sometimes I felt it and sometimes I didn’t, and I never knew when I would feel it or why.

I now realize that whenever I experienced this type of deep love for everyone in my space, I was creating it.  I didn’t know that I was, but I was.  And now that I know where that wonderful experience came from (namely, me), I am committed to learning how to make the process conscious and how to create it consistently in my life.

I’m not sure exactly what I did to “turn the love on,” but I think one crucial element is to just be with someone without any judgments, focusing on who they really are and not their “creation.”  Another crucial element is to get in touch with who I really am, namely, the creator of my life, not the creation that gets created.  When I am able to allow who I really am to see who you really are, all there is is love.

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