Do you get attached to the things you love?

It’s natural to think that our love for something is caused by the thing itself – and thus to think we need to keep it around to continue to enjoy the experience of loving it. 

But contrary to popular belief, our love for something is created by our THOUGHTS about that thing.

If you love a friend, it’s because you have thoughts about how amazing and kind and wonderful they are.

If you love a city, it’s because you have thoughts about how vibrant and inspiring it is.

If you love an apartment, it’s because you think things like “Damn, this apartment is amazing!”

The friend, city, and apartment don’t create your love – your THOUGHTS do.

When we don’t understand this, we become attached to the friend or city or apartment because we think it causes our feelings. I call this loving something “hard.” It sounds nice, right? I love that person so hard. 

But how hard we love doesn’t mean anything about the quality of our love.

In fact, loving something hard usually has more to do with our assessment of how much it would HURT to lose that love, than anything else.

Sure, we evaluate a relationship by how happy it makes us feel…but we also associate the depth or importance of our love for something with the degree of pain and suffering we think we’d have if we lost it.

Fearing this suffering doesn’t mean the object of our love is important to us for its own sake. It doesn’t mean we are particularly loyal, or emotionally deep, or sentimental, or anything else. It doesn’t even mean we necessarily ACCEPT that thing as it is – because often, when we love hard, we RESIST when that thing changes.

When we love something hard, it’s because we think we need the object of our love to be a certain way for us to feel ok.

And when we “love” like that, we aren’t really loving at all because we’re more concerned with what the object of our love will do for us and how we think it will make us feel, than we are with the thing itself.

This is why we so often associate love with possession.

We think we need to be involved with someone to love them. Or that a friendship has to be active and mutual for us to love the friend. Or that we have to live in a place to enjoy loving it.

We believe, essentially, that we must POSSESS the object of our love in order to enjoy it. In order to be happy.

And when we believe our happiness is dependent on something outside of us? That is a recipe for attachment, control, and fear.

But our happiness and worth always come from our thoughts.

If you think your partner makes you happy, it’s because you have thoughts about them that make you happy. If you think your accomplishments are a sign of your worth, it’s because you believe “I am worthy” and feel proud. If you think being single makes you sad, it’s because you think “Nobody loves me” and feel sad.

If you’ve ever wondered why loving hard can feel like such a roller coaster, it’s because we are outsourcing our happiness and sense of security in the hopes that people or situations outside of us will magically provide the exact validation or assurance we need in order to trigger thoughts that make us feel good about ourselves.

Sure, it can feel amazing when that validation hits just right. But most of the time, we will just feel terrible and out of control, especially when relationships end or situations change.

In this way, loving hard FEELS hard…and it also makes it HARDER to love.

If we make someone or something responsible for our happiness and fulfillment, our love becomes conditional.

It becomes manipulative.

It becomes about requiring a certain behavior or outcome from the object of our love.

About them meeting our expectations or cooperating with our desires.

This is why I am a champion of loving lightly.

Loving lightly doesn’t mean loving just a little, or loving in a detached way.

It means loving in a way that does not associate your own worth or happiness with possession of or access to the thing or person or job or experience in question.

To hold something lightly means nothing about how much we appreciate that thing.

It simply means that we stop trying to control its movements.

To love someone or something lightly is the same.

To hold your love lightly means loving without attachment to the object of your love behaving a certain way.

It means loving whether or not you are in their presence or country or LIFE.

It means loving because love feels amazing, and not because you NEED the person or the thing or the experience to feel ok.

To love lightly is to love someone while they want to be with you, and to love them just as lightly and just as well if they don’t.

To love lightly is to love a place you live, while knowing you could be equally happy anywhere else.

To love lightly is to love your child at the age they are, while knowing you’ll love them at the next age, too, without regret or drama.

To love lightly is love in its purest form.

And it is a PRACTICE.

It means working through your negative emotions rather than getting stuck in them, working through your thoughts and fears about loss rather than getting stuck in attachment to a certain experience or person or outcome.

To love lightly is to love what you have with delight, and also to know you’d be fine without it.

I love my business lightly, because it is my mission in this world and I give it so much of my attention and heart, and also I know that if it disappeared tomorrow, I would still be me and I would find a new way to teach and serve.

I love my partners lightly, because when I love them hard, I make it hard for myself to love them. When I love them lightly, it feels easy to love them no matter what happens.

I love my family lightly, so that they can be themselves and I can be me, and I can love us all no matter what.

I love money lightly, because it’s convenient and makes my life easier in some ways, and also because if it disappeared tomorrow, I know I would be fine. Because money doesn’t create my happiness, and because I know how to create more if I want.

Loving lightly is fundamentally an act of ABUNDANCE.

The only reason to love hard is when you fear there isn’t enough out there for you, so you try to put a leash on the thing that you love.

When you love lightly, you know that people and places and jobs and even family can come and go, and that you will love them and love them well, without attachment to a certain outcome. When you love lightly, you take responsibility for your own happiness, knowing that you will always love yourself and your life, no matter what.