“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand.”
— Mother Teresa
With all the people in the world who are hurting for lack of love, can we really believe that it is within the reach of every hand? Absolutely yes, if we think of love as something to give rather than something to receive. A number of studies have established that loving others is inextricably linked with happiness. And anyone can love (or learn to love) others, regardless of whether that love appears to be reciprocated in the same measure.
Think of celebrities who are subject to the intrusive attentions of thousands or millions of fans who “love” them. Is this sort of one-way adoration and attention the key to happiness for these stars? I know few people who would say that it is. But genuine love for other people — not actions done with the hope of some sort of payback, but real, unalloyed affection — seems to increase our sense of purpose and well-being in ways not necessarily tied to what we get in return. Even tending to pets or houseplants has been correlated with increased life span and contentment.
There’s a wonderful moment near the end of the movie Marvin’s Room, in which an unmarried woman dying of cancer after years of care-taking her aging parents tells her younger, more selfish sister not to feel sorry for her. “I’ve been so lucky,” she tells her. “I’ve had so much love.” The younger sister replies, “Yes, they love you very much.” “Oh,” the dying sister says, “I mean my love for them. I’ve been so lucky to have two people in my life to love so much.”
That line has stuck with me. Love really is within anyone’s reach. Usually when we give love, we will be loved in return. But even if we are not, genuine love for others is the source of happiness because it takes our mind off of our own sorrows, and connects us to all that matters most. I wish you a life of love!