When you get right down to it, love is the essence of everything good, nourishing and uplifting in life.  So maybe the Beatles and Mary J. Blige are right–all we need is love.  I’m not talking just about romantic love with a partner, but the close relationships you enjoy with other family members and friends.  Love is more an experience, and a state of being rather than an action.  We often stop ourselves from giving and receiving love out of fear.  The fear of what another person will think, of being rejected, of getting hurt, and on and on.

When we let these fears rule our lives, we are pushing away love, holding it at bay.  We can choose to act lovingly towards others regardless of our fear.  We can even love another in the face of unloving behavior from them.  It all comes down to choice.  You have the power to determine how much love you want to receive by how much love you share with the world.  It’s time to move away from fear and insecurity and toward love.  Here are some tips to bring more love into your life:

1. Start by loving yourself.  If you can’t love you, how can you let anyone else love you?  Take some time today to appreciate who you are–the miracle of you.  Acknowledge the body parts you love and ask forgiveness from the parts you habitually criticize.  Love those parts instead.  Pay attention to your unique qualities, skills and knowledge that make you amazing.

2. Practice being loving, no matter what the circumstances.  Talk gently to people–the way you would like to be addressed.  Use kind words, stay positive and do small acts of service for others.  This demonstrates your appreciation of each person you interact with and starts a ripple effect of love.

3. Forgive people who aren’t acting loving toward you and move on.  You don’t have to condone their actions, or agree with them.  But don’t hold on to negative thoughts about them or about yourself.  It is  a waste of energy.  Bless them for doing the best they could with the limited skills, resources and knowledge they had in the moment.

4. Play with a dog.  Dogs are nature’s models of love–we can learn a lot from them.  Spend some time with a furry friend and relish in the joy and love they bring with them.

5. Be present.  Notice the world around you.  Look at the people you pass, the trees and bushes as you walk, the colors of the sky, the lighting and shadows in your office.  Just be in the moment and appreciate that you live here, now.

Bring some more love into your life, and spread the love to others.