In the previous part, we examined how wealth contributes to happiness, and some concepts about wealth and how to strive for happiness by only focusing on the things you can control.
Chapters in this guide:
Part 1 - Finding Happiness
Part 2 - The Meaning Of Life
Part 3 - The Most Important Thing In Life
Part 4 - How To Become Wealthy
Part 5 - Learning To Love
Part 6 - Know Yourself First
We've gone through purpose, health and wealth. In this part, we will talk about the last aspect of happiness - love. Humans are social creatures by default, and love is an essential part for us to find happiness and belonging in this world.
In this part, we will examine the various kinds of love one experiences in their life, how to strive for love, and how love connects us and affects our happiness.
Why do we need love?
Love is said to be the most intrinsic emotion in humanity. Some spend their whole lives finding love, but what is it about love that makes it so attractive to us?
I think the biggest reason, besides our gene encoding as a species that tells us to procreate, is reliance.
As we mentioned in the first part, happiness is not a solo process. Similarly, going at it alone in the world can be extremely tough and tiring, knowing that if you fail, no one's going to step up to help you. And if you succeed, there is no one there to share the joy.
We can't always be strong. As life throws more and more problems at us everyday, there will be days where we break or can't take control of it all.
Love keeps us hopeful and determined - it is both a safety net for you to rely on and a feel good emotion to see the ones you love succeed.
If someone loves you, they'll be there to support you in times of trouble and need. Instead of having to face your problems alone, you have help, whether you need courage, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.
Love is the emotion that turns this world from a solo effort to a collaborative one. As such, it is a powerful emotion that contributes greatly to our happiness and mental health in life.
While love is broadly defined to be an all encompassing emotion, I would like to split it up into three markedly different kinds - familial love, friendship and romantic love.
Apart from these three main forms of love that one would experience in their life, I will vaguely define a fourth kind of love, and that is the love one holds towards your own self, also known as self love.
To work towards happiness, we want to have as many types of love as we can in our life. Remember, you can think of love as a kind of support as you go through the trials and tribulations of living.
The more support we have, the easier it gets to pull through, and the healthier you'll be mentally. With the right kind of love in the right amounts, we'll be a happier person because we feel loved, acknowledged and meaningful.
Knowing that, let's go through each type of love one by one, examining them in greater detail, as well as how to strive for them.
There are many different types of love, but let's start off with the one that most people are born with - familial love.
What is familial love?
Familial love is the love that exists within families, and is shown through the care that family members show to one another. As the saying goes:
Blood is thicker than water.
Familial love is often said to be stronger than love borne from friendship or romantic relationships. This is because familial love is (usually) the only form of love that doesn't seek reciprocation.
The love a parent shows to their child is usually unconditional. They pay for you as you grow up, shelter you and nurture you at the expense of their own health and sanity.
The willingness of most parents to do such a thing is why familial love is the most precious form of love possible - because it is unconditional.
The same cannot be said for other forms of love. In both friendship and a romantic relationship, there is some sort of expectation between you and the opposing party, whether that expectation is built upon mutual benefit or need.
Therefore, familial love is the most precious kind of love that you are given only once in your lifetime.
While other forms of love can be gained throughout your life, this is the only form of love present at the beginning of it - and it depends on you to maintain it for as long as you can.
Familial love is also one of the easiest to maintain, since your parents have a vested interest in your well being. If you show care and concern back towards them (which you should), you can maintain it for a very long time.
What is the importance of familial love?
When you are young, you're dependent on your parents for a lot of things. Whatever your dreams and aspirations are, if you have your parents support and encouragement, things become so much easier.
Without support from your family, many things may seem far out of reach and even become an additional stress point in your life. It is therefore paramount to maintain close relationships with your family.
Whether it be financial, physical, or emotional support, family is one of the closest sources of help you can seek.
As mentioned, familial love is actually one of the easiest forms of love to maintain. Little things like eating together, doing activities like exercising or playing are all helpful in building close relationships with family.
Family is also the most available place of advice. While our significant others and friends may be around our age, our parents have been through a better part of their lives.
While sometimes, they may not understand certain things that perhaps the younger ones do, they have abundant experience in living. Many things that may not be clear to you may be clearer to them, who have a wider perspective on society.
Siblings are also one of the closest sources of support within the family, providing more relatable help if they are around your age.
Familial love is one of the most trusted and stable supports in your life. If you have it, make sure to put in the effort and dedication to maintain it. You'll never truly appreciate it until it's gone.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to be born into a family that loves them wholeheartedly. While you should try to patch things up as much as possible, sometimes, it just doesn't work out and even results in more stress.
Luckily, familial love is not the only form of love in our lives. There are many other forms of love where we can find support to make our lives (and others') better along the journey.
When we think of support, many invariably think of their friends. After all, we've known our friends for a decently long time, whether it be through school, through gatherings, work... the list goes on.
The concept of friendship sounds simple - some people meet, like hanging around each other, and eventually become friends. They interact often, helping out here and there, usually getting through life ordeals together because being of similar age, they are experiencing similar things.
Yet friendship is so much more than that. Friendship, as with any type of love, has the ability to mold and shape us. Whether it's our family, our friends, or our significant other, they all change the trajectories of our lives and our understanding of what it means to live.
As the saying goes:
Who we are is the average of our five closest friends.
Everyone we meet along our life has an impact on who we are and what we believe in. Those that spend the most time with us, and those closest to us, will affect us the most.
As such, it is extremely important to define the people who we regard as friends. Unlike family, which we are born into, we have a choice when it comes to the kind of love we receive and give for friendship.
If we are to work towards happiness, then friendship, which serves as a wide support net, is extremely important in bringing us towards that goal.
Now, I'm not saying that we should only seek out friends who align with our worldview and morals. After all, diversity is necessary in order for us to have a broader understanding of the world.
What I'm trying to say is that the relationship between friendship and self-improvement is a mutual process. As we project our worldviews onto the friendship, so is the friendship projecting their worldviews onto us.
This collaborative molding process results in a new you with a slightly altered and less polarized worldview.
To work towards happiness, we need this mutual process to result in a positive net effect. Essentially, we want to establish friendships with those who help and spur us to be better, rather than those that bring us down.
Don't be afraid to break off abusive or toxic friendships, or any other relationships in general. Life is too short to waste time on people that don't wish the best for you.
Salvage what you can, learn the life lessons, and move on to better people who are mutually supportive. Friendships are there to help you grow, and to help to expand and refine your worldview, as well as your concept of who you are.
Naturally, friendships are different from familial love in the sense that you have to work for it. This is why familial love is one of the most precious forms of love out there that you should treasure deeply.
While it is easy to establish the benefits of friendship towards your development and happiness, the problem comes with the process of establishing friendships itself.
How do you make friends that last? How do you gain friendships that resonate with you and help you grow?
The convergence of human behavior
Unlike magnets, where opposites attract, human society functions in a fundamentally different way. Instead, like tends to attract like.
You may have seen this prevalence in social media, or even in your day to day lives. As an example, it may seem like the popular and successful people tend to hang out with one another.
The reason for this is simple - the convergence of human behavior. Remember, as humans seek out relationships in life, whether it be friendship, connections or not, it's all based on the premise of mutual benefit.
Clearly, no sane-minded human will enter a relationship where one is constantly on the losing end (though you may find yourself stuck in one).
As such, all humans tend to gravitate towards those with the same worldview as them, because there is a possibility of mutual benefit to be found there - whether it be the joy in doing the same activities, or a deeper level of understanding coming from the same wavelength of thinking.
This can manifest in various ways, the easiest of which to explain is people meeting each other doing the same sport or activity. If you're doing the same thing, chances are you have the same interest in the same activity, which sparks off mutual interest and the chance of establishing a relationship.
Similarly, the rich and successful people tend to establish relationships with other rich and successful people simply because this gives them the greatest benefit. Same mindset, same get rich mentality, a common ground to work with.
While placing such a selfish point of view on the supposedly innocent concept of love is a dampener, it is important to keep in mind this concept of convergence because this is undoubtedly heavily present in today's society.
Essentially, if you want to improve yourself and work towards happiness, you need to use this convergence to your benefit. This means putting yourself out there doing the things that you like to do, and those which exhibit your interests and morality.
If you like a sport, join a group and do it. If you like to help people, find a volunteer group and stick with it. One thing's for sure, if you never meet anyone and stay cooped up at home, well, you aren't giving the convergence law the chance to work at all.
Don't be afraid to try something new, and don't be afraid to put yourself out there to try out the things that you love to do. No matter what it is or how society judges you for it, you can be sure that there are people out there similar to you, loving the same things and having the same worldview as you.
By putting yourself out there, you give yourself a better chance of finding those people and building up your network of support to improve yourself.
Love yourself before loving others
When we think of love, most people jump straight towards romantic love.
A lot of people regard finding a significant other as something that will drag them out of depression and put them back on track for a meaningful life, but this just isn't true.
A significant other isn't going to magically imbue you with purpose and wash away all your unhappiness. A romantic relationship is just like any other form of love - a huge support, sure, but it's not a magical cure-all pill either.
If you can't fully give yourself the love that you deserve and be comfortable with yourself, how can you expect to show somebody else the love that they deserve?
Similarly, if you can't even love yourself, how can you give others reasons to love you? The truth is, other than familial relationships, other forms of love are simply not as straightforward and unconditional.
A sustainable love goes both ways - as much as the other party supports you, you too should support them. Of course, I'm not saying that everything has to be calculated, but the basis of any form of love is mutual benefits.
Remember, love aids us in finding happiness solely as a form of support and encouragement. But it doesn't come freely - we need to put in commitment to sustain the love that others show to us in order to receive the benefits of that love.
We've examined the convergence of human behavior, how it impacts the relationships you form, as well as the impact that those relationships have on you. If you want to find someone who has a positive impact on you, you must first have a positive impact on others.
The first step to doing this is learning how to love yourself. After all, trying to positively impact others is difficult when you're being negative with yourself.
Focusing on the things you can change
In the previous part, we talked about how we should only worry about the things we can control in order to free up our minds and ability to do things. Learning to love yourself is perhaps the most important concept to keep in mind.
There are a lot of things in life that we cannot change or have minimal control over. These things may include your looks, your personality, the situation you were born into, and the way you think or feel.
There are a lot of people that worry about the things they can't change - things they are given since birth. Things that make them who they are and who they really want to be.
But this is you. This is the result of a multitude of factors, whether they be genetics or environmental, and this is what you've been given since the start of life.
It usually takes too long for someone to realize just how meaningless it is to care about the things that they can't change. Really, we should appreciate just how important this saying is:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Who cares what society thinks about you, or judges you, or demeans you for? Or rather, why do you care? Do you want to be loved by people you don't know, and will never interact with you in real life?
Or do you want to be loved by people who love you for who you are and what you want to be?
Spend more time on the things that you can change for the better. If you're insecure about your looks, don't cry about how unfair it is to be born that way. Eat healthier. Workout. Take care of your skin. Build your personality. You'll have a better chance to find people who love you for who you are that way.
If you are worried that the things you do or do not enjoy don't conform to society's standards, why change something you have no power over? This is who you are. Somewhere out there, there will be people who enjoy the same thing too.
Use the convergence of human behavior to find like-minded people and form your support net of love.
Now, I'm saying to just be yourself, but I'm not saying don't change yourself for the better. We all have weaknesses and faults. Remember your personality? We all have things that we are insecure over or hurt others for.
In our bid towards happiness, we want to discover who we are and what we want to be. But more importantly, we want to change ourselves to be the best person that we can be.
Remember, the better person we make ourselves, the better people we will meet to support and help us through our difficulties, and the easier it will be for us to work towards happiness. It's the convergence of behavior. Use it to your advantage - good attracts good, and toxic attracts toxic.
Finally, let us talk a bit about the most common form of love that people think about - romantic love.
Romantic love is kind of special, because it's the form of love that will follow you for the longest time throughout your life, assuming you get married. After all, sadly, your parents won't be around forever.
Friendships, while precious, are less close to us than our significant other. This is the person you'll share a house with and live with. In some cases, romantic love will grow and evolve into familial love itself.
While finding romantic love can be the greatest thing to happen to you, it can also be the worst. After all, this is the person who can give you the closest support, or cause you the most stress and sadness.
Naturally, one cannot simply commit to such a love without finding someone who truly supports you and loves you for who you are and what you stand for. It's just not going to work out properly in the long run.
Again, remember the convergence of human behavior here. You're better off finding someone with matching values to you, and to do that, you have to exhibit your own values.
Don't spend too much time searching for a pre-conceived notion of someone you think you will like. Let the convergence do the work for you. Instead, work on yourself, and work on doing the things you like to do.
You'll actually have better chances of meeting a like-minded person this way. Why search for someone you think you'll like if you can meet someone that already likes the things and values you stand for?
All in all, love is an extremely important part of our happiness as well - it serves as the support and encouragement base from which we can stand upon to reach higher and overcome obstacles in life.
There are many various forms of love we experience in life, but the main ones are family, friendship, and romantic love. Above all, all three of those requires us to learn to love ourselves to better appreciate and interact with other people.
When finding love, it is important to know how much these interactions with others can affect our worldview. To better ourselves, we need to interact with people who want to do better, instead of those who do not look out for our interests.
Again, this is not a calculative or close-minded thing - it simply is the way human relationships work. Like attracts like.
Focus on the things you can control, not the things that you were born with. It will be easier to love yourself that way, and you can actually make progress on things to improve upon yourself.
By building up these beneficial relationships in love, we are able to work towards happiness - purpose, wealth, and health more easily with others' help.
However, note that love is a mutually beneficial process. As much as want others to help us, we too must strive to help other people. This results in lasting relationships that continue to support and nurture mutually.
Happiness isn't a solo effort, and love is the biggest reason why.
In the next part, we will wrap up our examination of happiness, and look into working on yourself first as well as some key concepts about happiness and life in general.
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