How to Develop Love

Universal love – the wish for everyone to be happy and have the causes of the happiness – arises from understanding how our lives are totally connected with everyone else’s [See: What Is Love?]. Each of us is a part of humanity, and our well-being is intertwined with that of the entire global community – none of us can escape the effects of economic downturn or climate change. Interconnected as we are to mankind, it’s totally fitting to extend our love to everybody.

Cultivating love for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life. – The 14th Dalai Lama

To develop love, we need to appreciate our interconnectedness. Everything we eat, use and enjoy comes from the hard work of others. Just think of the thousands of people in various corners of the world involved in the creation of the electronic device on which you’re reading this right now. Reflecting deeply on this makes us feel connected and grateful toward everyone, leading to a sense of deep happiness within us. We’ll then naturally have concern for the happiness of others; these feelings are the basis for universal love.

A Short Meditation to Develop Loving Kindness

We first need to develop loving kindness for ourselves. If we don’t wish for ourselves to be happy, why would we want anyone else to be happy either?

We start by deeply feeling:

How wonderful it’d be if I were happy and had the causes for happiness.
I wish that I were happy.
May I be able to bring myself happiness.

Once we've experienced a strong desire for ourselves to be happy, we can extend our scope and apply the same thoughts to an ever wider circle of others:

  1. First, we aim our love toward our loved ones and friends.
  2. We then extend it to all of the neutral people we encounter every day.
  3. Then, we try to develop love for people we don’t like at all.
  4. Eventually, we aim our love to the entire world and all beings in it.

In this way, we can develop our sense of love to include not just the ourselves and the people around us, but all beings.

If we can actually do something to make others happy, then we should do it. If we’re not able, then we can imagine giving them whatever it is that will lead not only to their short-term happiness, but to their long-term well-being as well. This isn’t just about providing food and shelter for the homeless – after all, many rich and successful people are also miserable and need to be included in our wishes. Slowly, genuine love for our family and friends and every single being we encounter will arise naturally, bringing happiness to ourselves and others.

[Follow a guided meditation on love: Broadening Love]