By Marci Shimoff
What’s the one thing that would make 2011 your best year ever? More money? A better job? Losing 20 pounds? As great as those might be, there’s something else that I guarantee will create a magical year: unconditional love. It’s the one thing that changes everything.
What if you could live in a state of unconditional love all of the time? The kind of love that lets you bring the highest and best part of yourself to your family and friends, to your work, to your community, and even to the things that you find most challenging—and in so doing, create a life of profound happiness and fulfillment for yourself?
That’s the question I set out to answer in my latest book, Love for No Reason. In my earlier book, Happy for No Reason, I had interviewed unconditionally happy people to find out how to be truly happy. I took the same approach here, this time interviewing the experts on love. I talked to more than 150 people I call “Love Luminaries,” including scientists, psychologists, spiritual teachers, and people whose lives were rich in the qualities of the heart. These people weren’t just experiencing Hollywood or Hallmark-card kind of love, but love as a state of being: the kind of love that is limitless and doesn’t ask to be returned. The state I call Love for No Reason.
What I found is that although the Love Luminaries come from all walks of life and have diverse personalities, they share certain qualities that we all can develop to experience more unconditional love.
Here are 10 tips from my new book to get your New Year off to an unconditionally loving start:
1. Anchor Yourself in Safety. Feeling stressed, unsupported, or fearful essentially takes love off-line. It’s impossible to activate the physiology of unconditional love when you’re experiencing stress and your body is in fight or flight. To quickly switch out of stress mode, take a few deep breaths and consciously relax your pelvic floor, located at the base of your body. This kick-starts your parasympathetic system and sets the stage for what mind/body health expert Dr. Eva Selhub calls your body’s “love response.”
2. Sense Your Support. Einstein once said that the most important decision you can make is whether to believe you live in a friendly universe—one that is always supporting you. When you’re facing a challenge in life, sense the support of this friendly universe by looking for the ways that the situation is ultimately serving you. Ask yourself, Is this for my enjoyment, growth, or both? This helps you avoid generating the biochemistry of anger and sadness and keeps your love flowing.
3. Feel Your Feelings. What I discovered from my research is that stifling your emotions or expressing them excessively is equally damaging to your capacity to experience love. Luckily, there’s a third option: feeling your feelings. Practice experiencing your feelings directly and completely by observing them as they move through your mind and body—and then letting them go.
4. Practice Self-Compassion. Try a simple self-love technique that brings you into your heart and reminds you to treat yourself with care. Throughout the day, ask yourself, What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? or What’s the most loving way I can be with myself right now? And then pay attention to the answer and actually do whatever it is. When you love and take care of yourself, you’ll find it inevitably serves everyone.
5. Unleash the Power of Forgiveness. If you’re holding on to any resentments or grudges—past or present—they’re blocking your ability to love. Use the ancient Hawaiian kahuna technique of Ho’oponopono to release and forgive. The technique consists of sitting quietly and mentally repeating, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you,” over and over. Based on the principle of taking total responsibility for everything that happens to you, Ho’oponopono allows you to bring the vibration of pure forgiveness into any situation.
6. Let Love In. Receiving from others is an act of love and connection that opens your heart – and benefits your body too. Research shows that when you receive, your levels of serotonin – the neurotransmitter of well-being and happiness – rise just as much as when you give. The next time someone offers you a gift – whether in the form of a present, a compliment, or some assistance – graciously receive it. Smile and say thank you, while consciously feeling appreciation in your heart.
7. Live with a Grateful Heart. Start your own gratitude practice by consciously registering and savoring all that you’re receiving right now. Gratitude is the fast track to love. List five things you are grateful for at the end of each day. It turned my life around and it will do the same for yours.
8. Speak the Language of Love. When we speak directly from the place of unconditional love inside us, we touch that same love in the people we’re speaking to. To amp up the wattage of your love-body and have the most positive influence on the world around you, use words that transmit frequencies of love – not fear.
9. Listen for the Subtitles. During a conversation, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to read subtitles that spelled out what the other person really meant? If you only listen to the words spoken, rather than the underlying intention, you can end up feeling blamed or attacked. When you hear from your heart, your body’s fear system shuts off and you stop seeing the other person as an enemy. Instead you see the person’s humanity and how alike the two of you are, culturing more compassion and love. Create a safe space for others to communicate with you by being sensitive to the unspoken feelings and needs that underlie people’s words.
10. Plug in to a Larger Heart. Love thrives when we feel at peace inside. Recharge your spiritual batteries by investing time each day in silence, meditation, or prayer. Tapping into this inner wellspring of spirit will connect you to the energy of unconditional love and boost your capacity to experience Love for No Reason by a factor of infinity.
Use these tips to create magic in your life this year. When you’re open-hearted and loving, you attract the good, because you’re radiating the good. What could be more magical than that?
Marci Shimoff is the author of Love for No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love (Free Press, December 2010). Love for No Reason offers a breakthrough approach to experiencing a lasting state of unconditional love—the kind of love that doesn't depend on another person, situation, or romantic partner, and that you can access at any time and in any circumstance. This is the key to lasting joy and fulfillment in life. Order Love for No Reason now and receive the Love for No Reason Bonus Package free at www.TheLoveBook.com