Proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence as an “inalienable” right, the pursuit of happiness is a driving force in many of our lives. Through relationships, soul searching, material goods, peak experiences, and myriad other ways, we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the quest for happiness. It is no doubt one of our favorite cultural pastimes.
But being happy is less about “having”, or “doing” than it is about “being.” Love is the key ingredient to a happy life. In this month permeated with notions of romantic love, I encourage you to expand your “love vision.”
We can model that approach on the ancient Greeks who had at least 6 different words to express the distinct varieties of love. Throw in a few extra ingredients like satisfying work and good health, and a balance of these 6 kinds of love may be a simple recipe for a happy life.
1. Eros, or sexual passion. Romantic wild, “falling madly in love” love. This kind of love is romanticized in our culture. Although exciting and certainly part of our nature, when we let it take control of our brains and bodies and we can find ourselves dazed and confused. Speaking of dazed and confused… check out this post about the origins of Valentine’s Day.
2. Philia, or deep friendship. Self explanatory. A friend you can trust is priceless.
3. Ludus, or playful love. I love this one. It can be expressed in many different situations, from flirting with a lover, to joking with friends, to tussling like puppies with your kids. It’s about lightness. Play is so healing. Where can you bring more play into your life?
4. Agape, or love for everyone. (not to be confused with Eros!) This is the love taught by the great spiritual traditions and is akin to what I’m attempting to connect with during healing sessions. Love is a powerful healing and transformative energy, especially when it moves out of the realm of our personal attachments.
5. Pragma, or longstanding love. Patient, tolerant, adaptive. If you can stay married you have to be, right? Also involved in good parenting.
6. Philautia, or love of the self. How key is this? VERY, my friends. So many of my clients struggle with this one. Sometimes an objective perspective and some energetic cleansing can help clear some of that negative self-talk. Be kind to yourself.
Although Agape is similar, I’d like to add Divine love, a love that transcends our humanness, which connects us to compassionate forces larger than ourselves. Experiencing this kind of love is truly profound.
To see the full explanation of this ancient and expanded love vision read this article The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life) by Roman Krznaric. And thanks, Mom, for finding and sharing this article!
Wishing you a peaceful heart and a love filled Valentine’s Day,