And just as easily, it can spontaneously degenerate when the magic "just isn't there" anymore. Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another's goodness. After all, most love stories don't feature a couple enraptured with each other's ethics. God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). Nice looks, an engaging personality, intelligence, and talent (all of which count for something) may attract you, but goodness is what moves you to love. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). I was once at an intimate concert in which the performer, a deeply spiritual person, gazed warmly at his audience and said, "I want you to know, I love you all." I smiled tolerantly and thought, "Sure." Looking back, though, I realize my cynicism was misplaced. Erich Fromm, in his famous treatise "The Art of Loving," noted the sad consequence of this misconception: "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love." (That was back in 1956 ― chances are he'd be even more pessimistic today.) So what is love ― real, lasting love? What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others.
The way God created us, actions affect our feelings most.
For example, if you want to become more compassionate, thinking compassionate thoughts may be a start, but giving tzedaka (charity) will get you there.
Likewise, the best way to feel loving is to be loving ― and that means giving.
While most people believe love leads to giving, the truth (as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writes in his famous discourse on loving kindness) is exactly the opposite: Giving leads to love. When an enthusiastic handyman happily announces to his non- mechanically inclined wife, "Honey, wait till you see what I got you for your birthday ― a triple-decker toolbox! Neither is a father's forcing violin lessons on his son because he himself always dreamed of being a virtuoso.
True giving, as Erich Fromm points out, is other-oriented, and requires four elements.
The first is care, demonstrating active concern for the recipient's life and growth.
The second is responsibility, responding to his or her expressed and unexpressed needs (particularly, in an adult relationship, emotional needs).
The third is respect, "the ability to see a person as he [or she] is, to be aware of his [or her] unique individuality," and, consequently, wanting that person to "grow and unfold as he [or she] is." These three components all depend upon the fourth, knowledge.
A few years ago, I spoke to a group of high-schoolers about the Jewish idea of love. By focusing on the good, you can love almost anyone.
" "We're choosing to love him," her mother explained, "because love is a choice." There's no better wisdom Susan's mother could have imparted to her before marriage.
"Mom," she said hesitantly, "I really appreciate your feelings, but, in all honesty, how can you say you love someone you've never met?