Pursue What Matters
Episode 248: How Loving are you?
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you consider yourself loving? Or are you a prickly pear? What do others think? Can you see yourself clearly? Well join me today as we’re looking at the question How loving are you?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:12
I am Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Well, welcome to February it is the month of love. Now some of you might not want anything to do with that. And that’s okay. But today, we’re going to start off the month by looking in the mirror. So we’re just going to do a little bit of self reflection. To become a flourishing human. It requires three key components. So first, the ability to absorb love. So to let it in. And second to reciprocally share love, so give and take when it comes to love. And finally, to give love unselfishly away, so giving love without any expectation of it being returned to you. And that’s by George Follette. I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing his name, right. But I think it’s a really helpful way to think about this question of how loving are you so again, first, absorbing love or letting it in second reciprocally sharing love, so that give and take. And third is loving unselfishly, so giving love without any expectation of return. And we can kind of see that as actually an evolution in human development as well. And so it can be a helpful topic to look at. And so today, we’re going to focus on how you’re doing in terms of being a loving person. And of course, every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead and one of three areas leading with clarity, curiosity, and leading and building a community. And today, we’re really focused first on curiosity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:10
So really looking at self awareness and this question of how loving are you? Do you? Do you send out signals that keep people away? Or do you invite people in with warmth and kindness. And we’re also really talking about how you strengthen and build a community because of course, love happens in relationships and having warm, warm interactions and positive vibes with team members really makes a big difference. In fact, team members who have more pro social behavior are the most effective team so it’s less about intelligence, and native skills. And it’s actually about pro social skills. So we are kind we’re inviting where we pay attention to one another. And so we’ll definitely focus on both of those topics today. So let’s jump right in and look at the first key, which is the key to wellbeing is the ability to love others unselfishly.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:14
So of those three components of loving to love unselfishly is really probably the highest order we think about that, in terms of parents, we think about that in a generative sense, where, you know, maybe we’re donating to a cause, or we’re giving our time, to a purpose greater than ourselves. And so it is true. As humans, we have a need for belonging and connection, we have such a drive for that. And you know, the research on loneliness is really clear. When we’re not embedded in strong, strong relationships, we suffer and we have higher rates of death, and morbidity. But when it comes to love, we also have a need to feel as though we’re having a positive impact in the lives of others. And so it’s important to know that we’re loved and it’s also important to know that we’re helping others and that we’re, we’re impacting others for good. So to have the capacity to give love to those whom we don’t even have direct contact with or feel a personal connection to, you know, some of us maybe feel like that’s, that’s weird, or why would I focus on that. But this unselfish love is a major pathway to a life of greater health, have greater vitality, have greater meaning, and growth as a whole person and, and not to mention greater security and this comes to us from Scott Barry Kaufman. He is the author of transcend which is an excellent book. He is also the host of I believe it’s called the psychology podcast. Anyway, really great geeky psychology stuff if you’re interested.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:59
But this, see this can can really point to a paradox that is true about love and well being. So this is kind of the paradox, the healthiest people who have their love needs satisfied, need less to receive love. So it doesn’t take much for them to really feel loved. But here’s the paradoxical part, they are more able to give love. And so loving people have more love to give, plus, they’re less of a strain on the people in their lives. So it’s not that they don’t need love, they all need love. But they, you know, they’re, they’re coming from a solid foundation. And so they’re not coming from a place of scarcity, when it comes to love. And so this is how this is one of the ways that they are the most loving people, because they fill in abundance of this love. And they feel as though they can freely give it that, you know, it’s not costing them anything to offer love and offer it unselfishly, even if there is no reciprocal, reciprocal relationship in place. So that’s kind of the foundation for us as we look at this next, this next point, which is our key question, how loving are you? So the most loving people are high in the following characteristics. So I just want you to listen to these and see what you think see, you know, where you would kind of check the box versus, that doesn’t, that doesn’t really fit for me. So the most loving people are high in universal concern. And so this is a commitment to equal opportunity, justice and protection for all world, or all people. So think about like, there’s there are so many troubling things in the news these days. But when you maybe you read or see a story about devastation in another part of the world, even though it’s very far from you, and you might feel very removed from it. Do you feel this universal concern, right? When you see things that impact other humans? Do you? Can you have compassion, do you feel some of that pain, as well. And that really is an indication of how loving we are, versus someone that’s like, that doesn’t impact me like I don’t care, you can see how that’s a, that can be a pretty rough response. And that, you know, would tend to be a less loving person. The other component that these folks are very high in is known as universal tolerance. And so this is acceptance and understanding of those who are different from self, and promoting harmony and peace among diverse groups. Now, this can be tricky for some people, this idea of tolerance. I mean, some people don’t even like that word. But it’s just this recognition that, you know, you’re not going to see eye to eye with everyone, you’re not going to share the same values with everyone. But can you accept and respect everyone, right? Recognizing that their values or their perspective might be very different from you, and no one’s asking you to disown your values or your perspectives. But having this universal tolerance, or this acceptance of others, can be so empowering. I mean, it opens the door to learning. And it really is this foundation of care and respect, and compassion for others. And then the next component that the most loving people are high in is trustworthiness and dependability for close loved ones. So that’s not everyone, right? So these the most loving people don’t trust everyone, because that would be stupid, that we’re not everyone’s trustworthy, right.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:43
But they for the ones that they’ve led in the ones that they identify as close loved ones, they have a lot of trustworthiness and a lot of dependability. And I think that dependability one is a really important one to pay attention to, because it points to the importance of the fact that in loving relationships, we need one another. And there’s nothing wrong with that, like if you’re completely independent, in your most important relationships, you might, you know, you might be missing some opportunities. And that doesn’t mean you know, that we that we aren’t independent or that we don’t, you know, have different views and that sort of thing. But it’s just a recognition that in the in our closest relationships, we give them more, there’s more vulnerability, there’s more trust, there’s more dependability, and that goes both ways, right? Like we depend on others, but they can also depend on us. And we can depend on them, meaning they’re reliable. So there are a couple of ways to think about that. And so that’s the third factor. And then the fourth factor that the most loving people are high in is benevolence and caring towards close friends and family.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:52
So again, this isn’t necessarily everyone, but those individuals that they’re closest to the most loving people. Have a great day. Have benevolence, gentleness, love regard and caring. And that’s, that’s so, so lovely. And you know, it’s easy to say like, oh, well, that’s just a given. But it’s not actually I mean, unfortunately, for many of us, and there’s some, there’s some, you know, kind of sad research on this topic. But for many of us, we show the least degree of caring and benevolence to those who are closest to us. Because there, there can be ways that we take them for granted, or we just like, we don’t show up as our best selves, or, you know, we allow ourselves to be reactive or grumpy, or that sort of thing. And so, you know, we that’s always a really good gut check to pay attention to, like, am I giving the people I care most about the kind of benevolence and care and respect that I would give, you know, someone in a professional setting or someone that I met on the street. And so I think that can be a helpful guide. And so, you know, as you listen to those four factors, hopefully, you can kind of assess where you’re at and see where there could be opportunity for you to cultivate more of one of those, one of those factors. And so again, I’ll just mention that the most loving people are high in first universal concern, second, universal tolerance, which is this idea of acceptance, third, trustworthiness and dependability of close loved ones.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:29
And fourth is benevolence and caring towards close friends and family. And so even if we, if you didn’t go any farther on the discussion for the podcast, today, those four factors could be really helpful to pay attention to, and maybe you would just look at one and say, you know, what, I want to work on universal tolerance, right, like to see someone who has maybe very different views for me, and instead of being critical, maybe being curious, instead, seeing what you have to learn. And, you know, that’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, you know, some of it has been through education and training, and then the, you know, work opportunities, like I’ve had such a privilege to meet people of all walks of life from, you know, different economic backgrounds, different countries, different, different living circumstances. And, you know, I think, I think it was something, you know, part of my graduate training, that was a really important part of the training is this idea of acceptance and seeking understanding. And I’ve been so grateful for that, because it’s really opened the door for a lot of learning, and also just like a ton of respect for people from, you know, different backgrounds that, you know, might not have much to do with my, my history or my personal experience. But those are moments where, like, they’re just such opportunities for learning and connection. And so I’ve been very grateful for those, those opportunities. And of course, we each have access to those opportunities, right? Like, it’s not like we have to travel everywhere, or, you know, do do a lot in professional settings for these for these opportunities to happen. Like, it’s our neighbors, its people at the grocery store, it’s people that are children’s school, there are so many opportunities to really seek understanding and focus on acceptance and curiosity instead of taking a critical view of others.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:35
So as we think more so we’re looking at this question, again, of how loving are you, when we look at the greatest characteristics of the most loving people. So you know, there’s been research on this, the most loving people have the following character strengths. So kindness, love, of course, we would not be too surprised that those are the top of the list. So kindness, love, zest for life. Gratitude, gratitude is huge, right? Like if you’re going to do one thing to help yourself with greater wellbeing and happiness in life, have a gratitude practice. Another character strength is perspective, that’s really important. Some of our greatest moments of, of poor well being right not being well, mental illness, that sort of thing is it’s characterized by a lack of perspective, we get tunnel vision, we get beset by the thoughts in our own head. And so having perspective is so incredibly valuable. Another character strength of the most loving people is forgiveness. And, you know, for for all of us, relationships can be very challenging. And if you’re going to have close loving relationships, you better be willing to forgive or you’re not going to have those relationships for long. And so the most loving people are very forgiving. And so of course, that’s not a surprise. But you know, that might be something for you to pay attention to, right? Is this something that I can cultivate a little, a little more of? Or, you know, do I hold grudges do I pull pull skeletons out of the closet, when I get hurt again.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:13
And So forgiveness is a key character strength of the most loving people. Next, we also have social intelligence. So you can also think about this as a corollary to emotional intelligence. So they are pro social, they have awareness of what’s going on with other people, and they can navigate a room, they can navigate a conversation. And so it doesn’t mean that, you know, it’s extroverts necessarily, but it’s awareness of others and the, you know, a willingness to kind of navigate the social Mulu. And then we also have appreciation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:47
So appreciation is very similar to gratitude. Teamwork is another character strength of the most loving people, they want to work it out with people, they want to work together and collaborate. Another character strength of these people are, they have hope. They also have a sense of fairness, they have curiosity. And I’ve already used that word a couple of times, right to be able to approach people with a curious stance instead of a critical stance. And so curiosity is definitely one of those character strengths. They also have a good sense of judgment. So sometimes, you know, you might think you might see judgment on that list. And you’re like, that doesn’t sound very loving. But the truth is, we all need to make judgments in our lives every day, it doesn’t mean that we’re unkind or unloving, but we need discernment, we need to make judgments and assess situations, this helps us to determine who might be where it might be appropriate to give an increase in love and concern, right. And even if we think about like this unselfish love, you know, you don’t necessarily want to be in a position where you know, the, the offerings of your service, or whatever the situation may be, cannot be well received. And so you do need to make judgment calls about that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:04
Another character strength is humility, that’s, that’s a really big one. So these people lack pride. And boy, we could all benefit from having more humility. They also have a love of learning. So they are eager to learn and again that that word, curiosity comes up again. So this love of learning really shows up in openness to others, and openness to diverse perspectives. And it’s like, wow, like this person sitting across from me is fascinating. What can I learn from them, I had an opportunity several weeks ago, to, you know, work with an amazing executive leadership team. And, you know, I have the pleasure of Enjoying dinner with them. And my seatmate, I just had such a wonderful time getting to know her, and I learned so much. And by the end of the evening, I felt like, Oh, I feel like I have a friend here. Because it was just, it was so fun to learn more about her and you know, learn about some of the work she does, and hobbies and that sort of thing. And so this love of learning really opens us up to others and connection. And then the last two character strengths, which are awesome, include humor, humor is good. And that’s part of that social intelligence, right? Like we can make light of ourselves, we can lighten a situation with a joke, not at the expense of others, but that can be that can be really helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:30
And then spirituality. So I think that’s really interesting. That being more loving is tied to spirituality, right? And I think it goes with this idea of perspective, right, that we see that we’re not an island, that there’s more to us in this life than just, you know, this daily grind or this to do list, you know, that sort of thing. So I think that’s really helpful. And then the most loving people also score high in grit, in industriousness. So, right, they’re productive. They’re very effective. So grit, industriousness, productiveness. Organization and responsibility. So when I look at these, these five traits that the most loving people score high in, in a word, I think they’re dependable, like, these are people you can really rely on. So reliability might be another word to really encapsulate these, these characteristics. And if you think about that, the fact that these folks are very reliable, they’re dependable, it makes it easier to trust them, right?
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:38
So you’re, you’re giving them more and that becomes a virtuous cycle of trust, building and love, and that unselfish giving. So I think that’s really, really important to pay attention to. And so now let’s move to the third point, which is that loving people are high in both agency and communion. And so these are two really key points from some of the research. And they can sometimes feel like a contradiction because agency we kind of think about independence, making our own choices. And yet communion which is all about gathering, being being one, right if we think about that in in the spiritual term, but you know, so we think about agency as self protection, self assertion, separation, isolation, so separate separation from one another, and we think about that with good boundaries. But when we think about communion, we think about participation, contact, openness, unity, non contractual cooperation, right? Like, you know, handshake is good, that sort of thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:41
And from the research, this comes from David Bacon. optimal mental health requires a state in which there is a coalescence between charity and self interest between communion and agency. And that’s really important, because the most loving people are not walkovers, right? Like they are not doormats, they have good boundaries, and they can see things clearly. They have discernment, they have judgment, right, we already talked about that. So these individuals tend to have higher agency. So they’re more independent, they’re assertive, they, they use anger constructively, right. So they don’t, they don’t just lash out, they’re not reactive, but they recognize appropriate uses for anger, they show less emotional distress.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:27
So they’re able to keep themselves calm, even in a stressful situation. And they have less anxious attachment. So they’re pretty secure in themselves and in their relationships with others. And, surprise, surprise, they’re embedded in more supportive social networks, right, they have more friends, they have more sense of community. And then they’re also higher in communion. So they’re more comfortable with social relationships, they are unlikely to experience problems when in relationships. So in general, their relationships are going well. And they’re more likely to have support available when in distress, right. And that really points to the strength of those relationships. And so the most loving people really are able to integrate both agency and communion. And this leads to greater growth and wholeness. This really is a recipe for well being. And so I hope that this is helpful for you. The last point that I want to share, and this is just kind of a take home for you is that the most loving people take good care of themselves.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:35
So they have healthy compassion, both for themselves and others, they have healthy coping behaviors, so they know how to help themselves. They have healthy self love. So it’s not, it’s not grandiose, it’s not narcissistic, but they value themselves and they respect themselves, they have a quiet ego. Now, join me up coming on the podcast, because I’m going to do a whole pot podcast on this topic of a quiet ego is really a great a great conversation and a great concept to consider. And then they also have healthy authenticity, meaning they’re okay being themselves, they’re they are okay with genuine, they’re being genuine, they’re not always filtering, they’re not totally self conscious. And, you know, I don’t know about you, but being around someone who’s completely self conscious, it, it does not put you at ease, right? Like it’s it’s kind of it creates some some anxiety in those situations.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:30
But to be with someone who is at ease with themselves, invites others to be at ease with themselves. And so they’re very welcoming in that way. And so I hope that this can be helpful for you, right, looking at this question of how loving are you? And maybe there was one or two tidbits that you could just carry home with you maybe it’s around forgiveness, maybe it’s around curiosity. But we can all benefit from really intentionally focusing on some of these characteristics to strengthen our sense of self, our well being and also our ties with others.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:06
So head on over to the website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/248-howlovingareyou again? www.drmelissasmith.com/248-howlovingareyou Of course, I would love it if you would head over to Apple or Spotify and give the show a five star review. It helps people find me and the podcast and also join me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith I have great content related to the podcast every single day. So if you heard a list or heard some concepts that you didn’t quite get get down and you want to review those. Join me on Instagram because I have more details about things we discuss in the podcast every day on Instagram and I would love to connect with you there In the meantime I’m Dr Melissa Smith remember love and work work in love that’s all there is until next time take good care
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