Love First | Lorah Feldman

“Love first, ask later.”

Take a moment to let that sink in.

It seems like now, more than ever, there is so much fear, anger, and pain in the world. Wars are being waged overseas. Our sense of security is being threatened. People attempt to take their own lives because they can’t see past the pain they are feeling. Family and friends are being divided. It may seem impossible to understand what others are going through, and it may seem scary to make ourselves vulnerable to others who we do not understand.

But we can choose to love first.

What does that mean? To me, this means that before we make assumptions about someone based on how they look, where they live, what they’ve done, or whatever label they may carry, we can make a conscious decision to treat each other as people.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has shown that we can’t begin to treat the root causes of our broken world before we care for the basic needs of others. Those dealing with depression and suicide can’t begin their recovery until they have been acknowledged, listened to, and supported. Those who are homeless need to find shelter and food before they can fix the problems that resulted in them being on the street.  Those who have been trafficked need to find a sense of safety and normality before they can begin to rebuild their lives.

It all starts with us.

We come in contact with hundreds of people every day and each of those connections is an opportunity. We’ve all heard stories about small acts of kindness, but I like to call love in times like these “radical acts of kindness.” We will never know what a person is thinking, what their motivations are, or what they have been through. Just remember that you can be the person who shows up and changes their world, and that is worth the risk.

Here are some easy ways that you can love others first during this time of potential fear and tension:

Smile and say hello to strangers. It’s amazing how many of us interact with others throughout the day without a single smile or hello. Whether it’s the new student at school or the cashier at the grocery store, it costs approximately zero dollars to simply smile and say hi.  In fact, talking to strangers has been shown to make you happier.

Pay for someone’s food or drink. Paying it forward is such an easy way to be kind. It’s also contagious! One time at a Starbucks in Florida, one customer decided to pay for the drink of the individual behind them in the drive –thru line, who in turn paid for the drink behind them, and so forth. This pay-it-forward streak lasted for 11 hours! Imagine if our radical acts of kindness caught this kind of virality? Our world would be a much different place for sure!

Be conscious of small favors to perform. Offer to take someone’s grocery cart back to the store for them, hold doors open, compliment people on an article of clothing or hairstyle, if someone drops an item pick it up for them – there are so many opportunities to do small acts to help out the people around you.

Send a treat to underappreciated professionals. Police officers, fire fighters, doctors and nurses, human/social service workers, teachers, and other such professionals are often underappreciated and struggle with burnout. Show your appreciation for their hard work.

Write to people who need encouragement. A lot of people are in extra need of love and kindness. Write to prison inmates, individuals in rehab or a residential treatment center, elderly persons in nursing homes, or hospital patients. All of these individuals could benefit greatly from some written encouragement.

Show up for those who need us. It’s not always about saying the right words. Something as simple as our presence can mean a lot. Whether you get a phone call from someone who is going through a difficult time, or you are thinking about a friend you haven’t seen in a while.. invest in the people around you. Show them you care and that you will be there for them when they need someone to lean on.

Love is a strength, not a weakness. It is an act of courage.

Together, even in this tumultuous time, whether you’re dealing with personal conflicts or being bombarded by the news, we can weather this storm and make the world a better place while we’re at it. If we all consciously decide to be one voice of love and kindness, then our one voice will quickly become a force for good.