“Love is based on respect. Fear doesn’t respect anything, including itself.”

The Mastery of Love by Don Miquel Ruiz

I’m a big proponent of “unconditional love,” at least I say I am, and I do my best to practice it. Sometimes though, my fear and judgement of others is blaringly obvious, and I learn something new.

I started to write “and I wonder what’s wrong with me. Will I ever learn to behave better?” but I caught myself and wrote, “learn something new” instead. Growth comes when we see what we’re doing in a new light and change our behavior instead of judge ourselves. Unconditional self-love comes from self-respect and is the first step to loving others better.

I was scrolling through social media the other day and getting frustrated with a few friends. The things they post…can’t we just be nice? Do we have to share every ugly thing we come across on the internet? Is there nothing that you are experiencing that is positive and joyful? I mean…unconditional love is hard when you all give me nothing to work with. I’m over here working so hard every day to be a better human and look at you! You guys aren’t even trying.

That’s when I realized my error. Unconditional love is hard to achieve when you judge yourself and your behavior as superior to others and then look out into the world. If I love myself, consider myself capable, loving, and kind, it becomes easier to love others. I know that I’m a flawed human. I don’t always do what I should, I can’t always win, and I make mistakes, have bad days, and so does everyone else.

Everyone I meet in person and online has a different opinion about how the government should be run, how to raise children, how to live well, or be successful. We’re all at different places in our lives. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have at the moment. We’re all hurting a bit, some more than others.

When I respect others for where they are in life, that’s love. And that’s what helps people grow, not criticism or chastisement, not berating them or explaining to them how they could do better. Each one of us has our own life to live and being heard and respected for our opinions, whether they are positive and helpful or not, helps us learn to do the same for others. Only then can we evolve into better people.

I thumbed through the book to find my last quote about it. There are just so many wonderful ideas to think about here. This one summed up the whole thing for me, though.

“It’s not about following any imposed idea; it’s about finding yourself, expressing yourself in your own particular way. That is why your life is an art.”

The Mastery of Love by Don Miquel Ruiz

That’s what life is all about, Charlie Brown. Ha! Remember Charlie Brown Christmas? That’s what I thought of when I read this in the last chapter.

We are all life, and that life in us is part of bigger picture. When we discover it and accept it in ourselves and those around us, we become better people and it’s far easier to love and be happy with our lives. Your life is an art and art doesn’t need to be perfect and beautiful. It doesn’t need to be famous or sell well. It doesn’t need to be marketed as a product. It just is. Art for art’s sake? It’s just life.