For Health & Learning: Love
Love is a great master. It teaches us to be what we never were. –Moliere
We talk about love in many ways—it’s beauty and specialness, how badly we want it, how hard it is. Yet, love as teacher sometimes gets short shrift. As we enter the month of Valentine’s Day, let’s get schooled.
What are some lessons of love, particularly as they relate to health? I think of the countless stories I’ve heard from people, finally beginning to take care of themselves, because they want to be healthy enough to better enjoy spending time with someone they love. Be it lifting their grandchildren, taking an active vacation with a romantic partner, tending to sick parents, or living long enough to see a young person graduate/marry/grow-up–love teaches us that our health is not just for ourselves.
And the pain of a bootcamp class pales in comparison to a broken heart. The lessons love offers us about our ability to suffer and, sometimes after a time period we thought would never end, recover, are distinct from any other experience. The learning? I can do anything now, if I survived that. People often return to the gym with incredible drive after a break-up, divorce, or serious loss. They sometimes, and not mistakenly, believe they can do anything. Some are also ready to go right back into the flames that just burned them and are getting in shape for that! They didn’t touch a hot stove and learn not to do it again; they learned that sometimes you have to touch a hot stove if you want to cook.
How does love teach us to be “what we never were?” We all know a wayward soul who became a parent and suddenly had the discipline of a drill sergeant, a person who at long last was able to commit/hold down a job/do any number of uncharacteristic things as soon as they thought they had a chance with the person of their dreams. Certainly, love is a motivator. But its influence is more profound than that. The love of another shows us a faith in our own ability that we didn’t see until it was offered to us in the form of another person’s glowing perspective. This has positive repercussions for our health and every other area of improvement. When deep love is reflected back to us, we want to do our best to fulfill that reflection. More importantly, we sense our best is much better than we ever dreamed.
As you exercise this month, consider dedicating a workout, or two or more, to someone who has taught you a lot by simply loving you well. Then find someone special and pass the lesson on!