Last summer, while flipping through a magazine, I came across an article entitled, “What Would Love Do?” Author Mike Robbins asked, “What if we did actually ask ourselves, ‘What would love do?’ in all the important areas of our lives, especially the most challenging ones?”
The question was like a face full of cold water, simultaneously bracing and uncomfortable. I taped a notecard with the words “What would love do?” on my wall above my computer. I find it beneficial to contemplate that which makes me squirm.
Over the past nine months, I’ve experimented with Robbin’s love question. In tricky situations where my thoughts are running in circular patterns and my heart is feeling narrow, I ask myself, “What would love do?”
The answer is always surprisingly clear and simple. I have discovered that love is a pretty straight path.
See for yourself. Think of a situation that is bothering you and ask, “What would love do?”
The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Now comes the tricky part: Act on the answer.
Yup, that’s where I get tripped up too. “Yeah, but. . .” I think to myself. It’s like my ego goes into overdrive and mounts an anti-love campaign that would make the most hard-boiled politician blush.
“They should apologize to me first.” “I didn’t do anything wrong.” “I’m being taken advantage of.” “They are just plain wrong, mean, hurtful.” “Yeah, but. . .Yeah, but. . .Yeah, but. . .”
My ego-driven arguments are well thought out and easy to take on as the truth, but they don’t have anything to do with love. And they don’t lead me to do what love would do. As writer Anne Lamott said, “You can either practice being right, or practice being kind.”
I didn’t realize until I asked myself “What would love do?” how much I had been practicing being right, even though being right made me feel like I was carrying around a heavy load of stones in my heart. The weight of all those “yeah, buts. . .” was keeping me anchored in place, just out of reach of any kind of solution. I was right, but I was stuck.
Sophocles wrote, “One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.”
There was no way around it. Being right wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I screwed up my courage, ignored the frantic screams of my ego, and applied a much-needed love solution. I wrote my mother a long overdue email of apology and support. Before I could change my mind, I hit send. Immediately, I felt lighter, happier, and the “yeah, buts. . .” vanished into thin air.
It was remarkably difficult to let go of thinking I was right, but afterwards, I felt so content and at peace that I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier.
Over the last couple of months, each time I have applied a love solution–held my tongue, forgiven a mistake, put myself in someone else’s shoes–another stone within my heart has dissolved. What was complicated became simple. What was heavy became light.
When love flows, remarkable changes occur within relationships, within yourself. “The more you are motivated by Love, the more Fearless and Free your actions will be,” wrote the Dalai Lama.
Even though my ego continues to wage a determined battle filled with “Yeah, buts. . . ,” the question “What would love do?” has helped me become more flexible and courageous in my ability to love. Slowly, I am learning to act from my heart rather than from my head. I have even forgiven myself the fact that I often have to ask the love question day after day, week after week, month after month until I can conquer wanting to be right enough to apply the simple love solution.
My hope is to one day become absolutely fearless in my love. To have a quieted ego and a weightless heart. I think to do so would be to learn to love unconditionally. I’m not exactly sure what it would feel like to be so wildly brave or how to get there, but I do know the answer lies in asking myself the question again and again:
What would love do?
What would love do?
What would love do?