[Body, Mind & Spirit] The Only Reason To Do Anything Is for Love
Contributor

Most Mondays I wake up raring to go. Some days I hit the ground running, but other days, the sheer number of things I want (and tell myself I “have” to do) paralyzes me. My best defense is to dump everything that’s swirling around inside my head onto the page. This morning my to-do list looked like this:

 

Meditation and prayers

Write in journal

Write blog post

Edit memoir

Re-read last section of memoir

Yoga class

Clean kitchen

Unpack from trip

Respond to emails

Write birthday thank you notes

Grocery shop

Talk to Helen [my daughter]

Consult web designer

 

I don’t know if I’ll get everything on this list done today. Probably not. It helps to remind myself that it doesn’t matter if it takes me two or three days to complete these items. What does matter is that everything on my list I’m doing for love.

 

Dr. H. Ronald Hulnick, author, teacher, and world-renowned pioneer in the field of Spiritual Psychology, once told my class at The University of Santa Monica: “The only reason to do anything is for love.” That statement gave me pause. Really? I thought. Part of me wanted to disprove it. I wanted to say that was a luxury few people could enjoy. Would this be true for disadvantaged people? And on and on. But then I stopped myself, and asked, What if this is true? What might my life look like if love motivated my actions? What if I replaced fear with love? Unfortunately, as is the case for many of us, fear motivates a lot of my behavior. I began to wonder how life might be if instead of feeling pressured to do things out of obligation, insecurity, doubt, and fear, I flipped the paradigm on its head and chose to do things out of love.

 

So I experimented. The result was joy. It’s been interesting to realize that the specifics of what I did every day remained pretty much the same, but how I did things changed. When I realized I was doing what I was doing because of love, life felt lighter. For example, instead of complaining about cleaning my house, I focused on how much I loved my family and my home, and how great it was that I was able to clean my home. It also occurred to me that I was lucky to have a home. Instead of bitching and moaning about how much work it is to be an author, I reminded myself that this work is part of why I’m here. I love it, and I get to share it. How cool is that!

 

I am sometimes invited to do things I don’t want to do. When this happens, I ask myself, “Where’s the love here?” Maybe it’s connected to a person. Or perhaps it has something to do with the love I feel for a college, institution, or cause. I root around and sniff out the love. If I don’t catch its scent, I say no and move on.

 

I’m not absolutely positive that Dr. Hulnick’s statement is a maxim, but it’s been a sweet guide in my life and it’s helped me recalibrate everything I do so that I’m looking at my actions through the lens of love.

 

Recently, Robin Finn, a friend and former student of mine, published her first novel, Restless in L.A. Robin told me months ago, when she signed with her publisher, that her intention was to enjoy bringing her book into the world. And though there have been bumps in the road, which is always the case, she has not strayed from her intention to enjoy the ride. Here’s a great example of a teacher learning from her student, because as I gear up to bring my own memoir into the world next May (2018), I’m going to follow in her footsteps and hold the intention to enjoy the journey—potholes and all! And I’m going to remind myself that I’m publishing my memoir for love. Love for myself and love for others. Publishing is an act of generosity of spirit. It takes courage. The root of the word courage is heart. Anything coming from the heart resides in the neighborhood of love. And when you live there, life is good.

 

What do you do for love? Please share your thoughts. Hearing from others, making meaningful connections, is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging!

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Comments
  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Jo Anne Valentine Simson: Thanks for reading and commenting. Let me know how this works out! Best to you.

  • Terrific essay! At some level, most things I do are for love - of the natural world or of people in it, including friends, family, and self. But I've never thought of things that way before. It should give me much more joy to realize that what I do is for love, and I don't need to feel guilt when I don't meet others' wishes or expectations (or my own). I'm going to try to take this attitude for the next week and see how I feel at the end of it. Thanks for your insight!

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Marta C. Weeks: There's no such thing as a lost cause. Sometimes we engage in activities that maybe we don't enjoy or love—in service to larger things we do. Editing and revising are part of the bigger picture of sharing your voice and vision.There's probably something more you love about writing—besides having written! Focus on that. 

  • Dear Bella, I guess I am looking for a way to love EDITING nad REVISING. So far I can find a million things to do instead. The same is for Yoga nad exercises. Am I a lost cause?

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    suzi banks baum: Your post made me smile as I realized I don't shower every day—especially when I don't leave the house. My office is in my home. Sad to say, some days I don't even wash my face! Wow. What a revelation! I didn't get everything on that list done that day. It took two or three days—and I still haven’t written my thank you notes! Much love to you, too, Suzi. 

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Jennifer Ann Rose: I think you meant replace fear with Love. :) Funny! It is simple, but easier said than done. It's a practice. I'm thrilled that this post changed your day. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate it—you—very much!

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Lisa Thomson: Thanks. Glad you found this useful. :)

  • suzi banks baum

    Dear Bella, I kind of thought you’d copied my to-do list when I read this post! But reading yours brought this thought, “All of that, all in one day? And she didn’t mention a shower, or a walk, or washing her face.” On a day when my to-do list is this full, I am going ask, “where is the love here?” and move things off that list that don’t satisfy the love. I can enjoy many ordinary tasks when I approach them with love, and the harder ones-the revision process I am in-I can pad with the solid desire to love even this step of writing. Thank you Bella. Much love to you! 

  • Jennifer Ann Rose

    This was exactly what I needed this morning. Replacing love with fear. What a  brilliantly simple concept. I can't wait to put it into action. You've changed my day. Thank you so much for this insight and wisdom.

  • Lisa Thomson

    I love this post,Bella. You've really put into perspective why we do what we do...write among other things of course. Love this: "I root around and sniff out the love. If I don’t catch its scent, I say no and move on." Perfect.

     

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Rohn Federbush: I don't understand your comment. Doing what for love?

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Barbara Falconer Newhall: I'm glad you found this helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Have you considered how lucky you are that you have “so darned many things coming into my life that I would literally 'love' to do?” This is a blessing. Not everyone feels this way. Some folks are bored. Others uninterested. Or depressed. Or sick.  Still, I understand your dilemma and sometimes feel that way myself.  In terms of prioritizing, my strategy is to know I can't do it all while trusting I'll do what I'm supposed to do. And having faith that that's enough. That I'm enough. And savoring what I do. Loving it. And myself. Often this requires slowing down and checking in with my gut. When I'm listening and deeply connected, my heart guides me.

    At times, the heart can be a more trustworthy guide then the head.

     

  • Rohn Federbush

    Doing for love.

  • This is definitely a great approach for me. I find myself resenting things that I truly want to do -- I'm going to try out your suggestion. Still, there are so darned many things coming into my life that I would literally "love" to do. How do I prioritize? Say no, even?

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Oh, Amy S. Peele, I love that!  Thanks for reading and sharing!

  • Amy S. Peele

    What a heart warming & poignant blurb about love. My morning brings home the point of doing something for love. After working Full-time & dealing with heavy traffic I swore I would never get in traffic after I retired. Here I was this morning at 7 AM in traffic driving to my water gym class because I love it! I had my coffee and listened to something funny. It is truly my love for the feeling I get when I'm in the water that motivated me. After reading your blog I'm going to write "DO THINGS FOR LOVE" on the top of my daily calendar as I create my To Do list. Thank you.