Valentine’s Day is this week, and when we think of that day, we of course think of love. Love is both an emotion, and a character strength. We can identify the emotion readily…it’s that warm feeling we get when we interact with our significant others, our family, and our friends. What is the difference between that feeling among loved ones and the character strength of love?
It’s easy for us to confuse the emotion of love with love as a character strength. When we ask students to approach their relationships in a loving way, the giggles usually commence because they often view love as “hugs and kisses.” The Via Institute on Character defines the character strength of love as, “…the degree to which you value close relationships with people, and contribute to that closeness in a warm and genuine way. Where kindness can be a behavioral pattern applied in any relationship, love as a character strength really refers to the way you approach your closest and warmest relationships. Love is reciprocal, referring to both loving others and the willingness to accept love from others.” Click this link to see the Via Institute’s full article on the character strength of Love.
It is important that we focus on love in all our significant relationships…not just with our sweethearts, family and friends…but with our neighbors, our colleagues, and all those we encounter on a regular basis. Cornerstone’s Character Words posters, displayed around the schools, define love as, “Giving of oneself so another may live a more abundant life.” This indicates that love as a character strength is intentional and deliberate. We ask students to love one another through acts of giving and by acting in ways that reflect the virtues of courtesy, respect, and kindness. When we do something as simple as holding a door for another, we are demonstrating love.
You may wish to check out this Huffpost article on raising children who can love and be loved. Lifehack.org also has a tremendous article about raising kids who love and care for one another.
If you lead with love, you’ll never go wrong. Happy Valentine’s Day!