What does it mean to love your life? Like, actively love it. I’m talking about love, the verb. As in to hold dear, to cherish, to thrive in. (You know, loving.)

Speaking for myself, it’s easy to look for the feeling of love without the doing of love. I find myself thinking, I’m waiting…where’s my passion? My excitement? Why aren’t I loving this?

What if all of that’s on the other side of loving?

We talk about loving your life as if it’s only enjoying it.

We want the receiving part. Of course, enjoyment is important. It’s good to feel good about your life and have fun living it. But here’s the other part: life comes in ups and downs, peaks and valleys, darks and lights. Pain is inevitable, and all the pushing away and insistence that somehow it isn’t normal is a huge part of our suffering.

I know this, but still…Where’s the love?

I’m learning that the love is in me.

It’s in my attitude and choices and response to the ups and downs. And what I’m proposing here is, what if we focused on the actions of loving instead?

To love your life means to inhabit it differently. Move into it, settle in, find the places with the best light. Loving your life is proactive. It means moving beyond the conditional I like this but I don’t like that way of viewing it and into embracing the whole experience of it.

So, love your life.

Love your life through intent and action. Foster gratitude for teachers of all kinds, abundance in all forms, and the little things that contain so much beauty.

Love your life through loyalty to yourself. Live as honestly, wholeheartedly, brilliantly, triumphantly as you can. It’s okay, you won’t be perfect at it. But even so, take heartfelt actions and lean toward fascination for the ups and downs, insides and outsides.

Enjoy your life, yes, but also make friends with your pains.

Get to know them, where they live, and what they eat. Spend more time appreciating, less time complaining. But always with compassionate honesty. If you’re tired, then okay, you’re tired. If you’re grieving, then grieve. Cry, cool down, lay low. Where there are problems, encourage yourself toward constructive action. Or just sit with whatever it is knowing that you don’t need to fix anything.

Then come back and love your life the way you’d love anything or anyone else.

Care for it.

Respect it.

Watch over it.

Hold it dear.

Hold it high.

And love the one doing the living.

Leslie Ralph is a psychologist, writer, and artist who hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it.  Her people are creative, sensitive spirits who crave love and peace, inside and out. Leslie is the author of There, I Might Find Peace: Poetry and Prose, Mantras and Meditations for Peace, Love, and Strength. Download her free gift, a ritual for receiving, a daily ritual for bringing more love and light, clarity and confidence, meaning and connection to your life. You can follow Leslie on Facebook or Instagram.

Image courtesy of James Resly.