Saturday, March 27, 2004

Showing Affection in Our Present Society

This past week a question was posed to me that has made me do a great deal of thinking. Along with the question was the comment "This might make a good blog" : ) So here goes! I didn't respond immediately to this for a few reasons. One, because I had a lot of ideas on the subject, which I'll get to in a moment. Two, because I have an incredible amount of respect for the person who posed it and wanted to give it my best shot and, thirdly, because I was very honoured he felt comfortable enough with me to even ask it and want my opinion on it, so wanted to write when I had the time to do it properly.

The question/comment or combination of both that was share was "Our society frowns upon us openly showing our affection and love for anyone outside of our relationship (for example our significant other), and that the world would be a better place if we could feel comfortable doing so, enriching the lives and experiences of those expressing and receiving love."

We briefly talked about 'Agape love' or love for fellow man. Agape love is when you give love without any expectation of receiving anything in return. A long time ago I wrote about a passage I read where a grandfather was sharing with his granddaughter how special it was to acknowledge others. That even if you don't say a word to a stranger on the street, but make eye contact and nod or smile, that in itself validates a person's existence and can make all the difference for someone having a very bad day. That is, in a way, a form of giving love and one that many can feel comfortable in showing. Since reading that, I make a point of acknowledging people as they walk by me and it's amazing the response I get. Many stop in their tracks, just for a second, look back and almost always smile back. And when I watch them continue on their way, there's usually more of a bounce to their step.

When I did my first course with my mentor, Jim Quinn, one of the things we talked about was Agape love. He was an amazing man....someone who reminded you of your grandfather with twinkling blue eyes that saw right through to your soul. He would always hug you when you walked into a room and no matter what turmoil you went through you knew it was OK. He used to tell us that when we could say to others or even ourselves "I love you and I accept you even when I don't understand you" that was the perfect 'place to be', for you are giving love to another individual even when you don't agree with or understand what they are doing or saying. You no longer own their choices, but share love and acceptance regardless.

I read somewhere that you need 6 hugs a day to stay healthy. I don't know if it's true but I love the concept : ) I realise I can't go around hugging clients (though for some who bug me about touchy-feely stuff I sometimes threaten a hugging lesson, just to see the reaction). I think in our society it's not so much showing love and affection to someone other than our significant others that holds us back; it's more not knowing whether or not it will be accepted, or if the reasons behind it will be misinterpreted. And in a world where everything has to be politically correct, that doubles our hesitation.

Even so, there are many clients who will kiss me on both cheeks when they see me passing in the hallway. And many will come up even in a food court and give me a huge hug, which is such a wonderful gift. Not only because they're still talking to me after I pressed all their buttons, but because many of them wouldn't ever think of hugging in the first place and feel it's OK to do it now.

I don't ever want to be a part of a world that stops showing love to others, whether in a subtle way or not. So I will continue to tell a client that I love him or her because they are amazing people who I absolutely respect and am blessed with knowing. And I will always tell my friends, male and female and family that I love them. They are what make my life extraordinary. And they should know it.

I thank the person who brought this up in the first place. I owe him a hug : ) And yes I absolutely agree that the world would be a much better place.

I know this is different, but still, the analogy fits. When sharing thoughts on the topic of 'Love Based Leadership' a very wise man wrote me a while back, "I think that is the only true leadership there is. If it is not popular, that I can understand because the contemporary world is not lead by love. People only claim that they do. They even claim that all their acts of violence are based on care, love and responsibility. True leaders always go to places no one have ever been before and do things no one has ever done before.

We need to create a new culture based on universal values. This might feel big and heavy but as Harry Palmer, the founder of Avatar says: "The history of civilizations is the story of beliefs originated or adapted by influential individuals." If I was asked to say something this is what I would say: "Imagine this current world like a turbid water in the glass. Just keep on dropping clear water into the glass until at one time the water in the glass is clear."

My philosophy in person at a time, one choice at a time. The ripple effect goes far beyond anything we can imagine. Show love to one, and they will almost always show it to the next person. How you choose to do that is up to you. There are ways that don't cross any politically correct boundaries, but the message is there all the same.

Donna Karlin

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