by Dr. Ken Larsen
Love and belonging is at the top of the list of our basic needs named by Dr. Glasser. What we do to fulfill those needs is the essence of mental health and happiness. Love is a word with many meanings. I’d like to examine some of those meanings.
Anyone who has been to summer Bible camp has probably been exposed to the Greek words we have for “love”. They are:
- “Philos”. This is brotherly love. Think of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
- “Agape” is the selfless, unconditional love that is often used to describe God’s love for humanity.
- “Eros” is the intimate affection between lovers.
- “Storge” is a parent’s love for their children.
Each of these ways of expressing love are lifegiving and enriching of relationships.
We need an infusion of love to live and to enjoy life in health and happiness.
Love is poured into us from the very beginnings of our existence. A mother looks on her baby with love while caring for her baby’s needs. We are learning that this life giving, life enhancing connection between a mother and her baby is much more than just a “nice to have” expression of affection. It is actually essential for the healthy development of the baby, especially for their social and emotional development. This connection goes both ways. Both mother and baby enjoy a release of neurochemicals that support their mental health and happiness.
Sadly, there are some children who are deprived of this early enriching experience of love and care. Many of these kids grow up and experience difficulties connecting socially. Often there is limited ability to self regulate difficult emotions. This often leads to the self medication that leads to addictions. Violence and unloving sex are behaviors often associated with people that have not had the early experience of love that is needed for mental health and happiness in a stressful world.
I am convinced that it is better to reach out a helping hand before we read another tragic headline born of the not so quiet desperation suffered by some of our people.
How can each of us make a deposit of love into the accounts of those whose emotional checks are bouncing? There is no quick and easy answer, at least none that I know of, but I do know that it is better to reach out than to reject and ignore. There is that wonderful tagline that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
Elvis did a song entitled “Life” back in the 70s. The closing line is “…for life is love and love is life.”
Here’s the song if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4cWkMXrGjo