Love is a crazy currency, isn’t it? It seems the more we spend, the richer we become.
Don’t think love is like money? Well, think about it: so many times, we look for ways to get love … to bring it in to our lives. Or, we think about how little love we have, and that can bring us down and make us feel poor in that area of life.
None of these ways of thinking about love are necessarily wrong. It’s just … well … maybe there’s another piece to the love equation that we haven’t put enough attention on in our lives.
We’re Programmed to Want Love and Get Love
Think about the books you read over and over, the movies you watch, the TV shows you binge, or the songs that lift you up. Often, the engine under the hood that propels them is two people in love, someone losing love, a hero getting love back, unrequited love, etc. (I’m looking at YOU Romeo and Juliet.)
It would seem we’re programmed to think about love as something we get, lose, then seek again.
It’s something “out there” or away from us, and we want more of it or we want it back.
But is there another way to approach it?
What if we decided that, instead of seeking love or trying to win it or get it, we just gave it away – with no expectations of anything in return? What if we dropped it around, like spare change into a tip jar? What if we just left it on a doorstep and walked off?
It’s not as wild as it sounds.
Love Might Be Good for Your Health
Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” So true. And since giving love away has been shown to improve health, it does, in a sense, make us richer.
According to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, a life with love in it (including self-love and generating kindness) can reduce anxiety, be good for the heart, and lower blood pressure.
And giving to others – a form of love – can, according to the Cleveland Clinic, lower blood pressure, raise self-esteem, lower depression and stress, and lead to a longer, happier, more satisfying life. In fact, according to the Clinic, “[G]iving can create a ‘warm glow,’ activating regions in the brain associated with pleasure, connection with other people, and trust.”
When we spread (and spend) love, we make others (and ourselves) feel good, and we may increase our health. What better reasons could there be to start?
Ways to Start Spending Love, Right Now
So how can we start giving more love away? Well, here’s the good news: you don’t have to be rich in money or time. Anyone, anywhere, can do this, just with the things they have in their lives right now.
Spending love can take the form of kindness, calmness, charity, or a smile. It can even be self-love.
There are infinite ways to spend it, and people to spend it on. All it takes is willingness and imagination. Here are 25 suggestions:
- Call a friend and tell them how much you appreciate having them in your life
- Give a gift (or a smile or wave) to someone for absolutely no reason
- Tell someone at work how much you enjoy working with them
- Praise a child for a small accomplishment and watch them light up
- Ask your significant other what movie they’d like to watch, no strings attached
- Volunteer at a charity that means something to you
- Tell someone on social media how good their post made you feel
- Donate clothes or other items
- Drop an argument, even if you think you’re “right” or “winning”
- Hold space for someone who is feeling down, and just listen
- Use “please” and “thank you” with reckless abandon
- Practice self-compassion, and don’t judge your appearance or emotions
- Pick up a piece of trash in the park and put it in the garbage or recycling bin
- Switch negative talk about yourself and others to something positive
- Let someone cut in front of you in line if they look like they’re in a hurry
- Use kind words, even when the situation is tense
- Offer to pick up the check
- Find ways to love yourself – with quiet time or some kind words
- Tell the customer service rep you appreciate them
- Get down to a child’s level and play their favorite game on the floor
- Be patient – even when it seems impossible
- Be mindful of how your words and actions affect others, and the world
- Use a quiet voice, even when the discussion is getting loud
- Spend time focusing on your own interests and passions
- Congratulate others on their accomplishments and success
No one can say for sure what happens when we come to the end of our days, but one thing is for sure: our money stays here. However, our deeds, our kindness, and the memories of who we were remain, as does the love we give.
It seems like that’s the best place to spend our time, and our currency.
Read about a path to true love for self and others in An Audible Silence.
For better self-care, try practicing mindfulness with this free Mindfulness Quickstart Guide.
A version of this post originally appeared on my blog.