I recently read a blogpost by Anne Lamott. In a nutshell, she says, "If you want to have loving feelings, do loving things." It is that simple.
If you want to have anxious feelings, watch the evening news on television. Observe people killing each other, rioting, launching rockets across borders and shooting down planes. Make sure your mind is filled with images of blood. Lots of blood. And death. Gory death.
If you want to have angry feelings, I recommend drumming up memories of past insults and transgressions. Remember those really mean things your sister said to you? When you were pregnant and overly emotional and at your most vulnerable? If you don't have a sister, then maybe it was your mother. Or your mother-in-law. I'm sure you can dig up something.
If you want to have sad feelings, you have many choices. Maybe you'd like to stroll through the Holocaust Museum. I've never been because there is no way I could hold it together while looking at hundreds or thousands of shoes belonging to all the innocent people who were put to death for no reason. No way. I can't read a book or watch a movie about the Holocaust, either. If the Holocaust doesn't bring you to tears, you might try any Disney movie. Maybe Old Yeller?
But if you are looking for loving feelings, feelings of warmth and compassion, try committing acts of loving kindness.
Even if you are in a loving relationship, it is easy to get out of the habit of acting in a loving manner. I know I tend to take my poor husband for granted. I expect him to treat me with constant adoration, but do I always reciprocate? I think most of the time I forget to.
Do you always kiss your spouse goodnight? Do you offer a hug when your loved one is feeling down? Do you stick a love note in your child's lunch box?
Do you listen, I mean really pay attention, when someone you care about is speaking to you? Do you put aside your own reactions and try to understand how they feel? Because your attention is the most powerful expression of love that you possess. And it costs you nothing but a moment of your time.
Today, if you'd like to experience loving feelings, try giving someone else those same feelings. Offer someone your loving attention and a small act of kindness. I'm not talking about giving away a million dollars or spending a year building schools in El Salvador, although if you can give in this way, more power to you. I'm talking about something you can do right now, without leaving your own home or your workplace. If you feel like sharing your experience, please post some details below!