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Twenty Ways to Keep Love

by Judy Irving

What is the ONE thing we all want in life! Most people think, "I don't know what I want", or "I want money." But in truth, the one thing we all want more than any other is to love and be loved. This is the yearning of our heart and soul. Below are some ways to find and keep love.

  1. ASK YOURSELF - "Who am I?": Know thyself as the Old Masters advised. What are my beliefs, strengths, priorities? What is important to me? What do I value? What is my vision for life?

  2. BE AUTHENTIC - Take off the mask. It takes an enormous amount of energy to "act" all the time. This is energy that could be better used to love and connect. Once you know and accept yourself, this becomes easier.

  3. WITHHOLD JUDGMENT - A relationship without judgment is a relationship without problems. This includes the relationship with yourself. Our culture taught us that we all have "roles" to play. We have a "picture" in our heads ofwhat we, our spouse, our children, our co-workers are all suppose to adhere to. The problem is, we didn't tell them what "our" picture looks like. The problem is, they have another picture.

  4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY - for your experience, your perception, your feelings. Don't blame. No one controls your feelings, but you. You alone are responsible for your thoughts. It is not what happens to you that upsets you, it is the MEANING you give to it.

  5. REALLY LISTEN and clarify what you heard. Stop for a moment and think: What does it feel like when someone really listens to you? Give this same gift to those you care about.

  6. BE A "LOVE-FINDER", not a "fault-finder". We all have plenty of people pointing out our faults and weaknesses on a daily basis. Point out others' strengths; look for the love in everything they do. It was those strengths that attracted you in the first place.

  7. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK - How will they receive this? You can say almost anything you have to say if you say it with compassion and say it in a neutral tone. Be direct, but without sarcasm or anger.

  8. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT - Don't complain. Be big enough to just ask, without lies, control, or manipulation. Be specific.

  9. HAVE INTEGRITY - Keep your word, your appointments, your commitments, and your honor. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Integrity is when thought, word and deed are all in alignment.

  10. ASK OTHERS HOW YOU CAN PLEASE THEM. Men especially appreciate knowing how to please the woman in their life. It eliminates guessing. Women often say, "Well, he should know." Maybe so, but his idea of pleasure may not be your idea of pleasure, or love (see #3).

  11. TELL OTHERS HOW TO PLEASE YOU - Simply say "You know it would really make me happy if you could ________ ", or, "It really pleases me when you do so and so."

  12. FOCUS ON WHAT'S WORKING - all too often our attention is on what is not working. See every problem or challenge as an opportunity for you and your relationship to grow.

  13. WHO AM I IN THIS RELATIONSHIP? Is it someone I am proud of? Then ask, "who do I want to BE in this relationship?" Commit to becoming that person.

  14. DON'T LOOK FOR LOVE - uncover your own. Be committed to the relationship you have with yourself. When you learn to love yourself, you realize love is everywhere.

  15. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES - A boundary is a way of saying "No" to anything that is not right for you. Healthy boundaries are set, not out of resentment for another, but out of love for self. Remember to honor others' boundaries as well.

  16. BE MORE APPROVING - if you want more love, be more loving. Ifyou want more approval, be more approving. If you want more kindness, be more kind.

  17. TREAT YOURSELF the way you want a partner to treat you. People treat you the way you treat yourself. Sacrifice and martyrdom are not love. Pain is a given in this world - suffering is optional.

  18. STAY IN THE PRESENT - where love can find you. If you are living in the past or worrying about the future, you are not living!

  19. FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE - forgiveness is the key to happiness. When you have forgiven forgetting takes care of itself.

  20. DON'T BE AFRAID TO LOVE - or show love or to say "I Love You". It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved. Love opens us up to who we truly are. Love can never be lost.

As published in the February 1999 issue of Daydream magazine and from the forthcoming book, "50 Ways to Keep Love" © by Judy Irving.

Order the 50 Ways to Keep Love Audio Tape! Recorded live in Las Vegas. To purchase this 90 minute cassette tape, fax credit card information, name, address and number of copies desired to (702) 233-6882. Cost is $12.95 plus $3.00 shipping and handling to any address in the U.S. (Visa, MC and Amex accepted)