Where there is no love, put love – and you will find love.
John of the Cross

In other words, where you hope to find love you should surely plant it. Not a romantic, dreamy kind of love. A substantial, broader kind of love that feeds your roots, calms your soul, brightens your life.

I came back from the US in November certain of a couple of things. Having lived so widely for the last few years; an endless parade of guests at my table for Monday Night Dinners, parties, picnics, BBQs and long weeks drawn out by social engagement after social engagement… I was ready to live deeply for a while.

Now, what does deep look like? I asked myself – where do I want to find love in it’s fulfilling, nurturing, best kind of self? I want to find it at work, in my family, with my nearest and dearest friends. In my community and all the communities that I am part of.

All the common caveats and exclusions apply. Of course I want to meet new people, to ‘do all the things’. Keep my options open, be responsive to whatever the Universe might send my way – or where the Universe might send me. I still love dinner parties and hospitality.

How do you plant love? How do you ‘put love there’?

The Rule of Positive Intent – I learned about this from Marko years ago and it’s remained one of the most helpful tools I’ve come across. The choice to believe that everyone’s intention is positive.  The root of this is found in Optimism.

Optimism is not a condition of your personality or your environment. It’s a conscious choice around perspective. Just as you can reframe and compose a photograph, we can change our perspective on issues and topics. We can choose to change our outlook on the people, places and cultures we exist alongside.

More often than not, to choose Optimism is actually to surrender some Self-Centred-ness. Self-centredness often leads to negativity because we have a tendency to view life through the ‘what about me?’ lens. Optimism is often about the ability to pull up to a higher view and see the greater good. That’s one way to plant love in a space that needs it – be optimistic and give your optimism as a gift, as wind to tired wings, as enthusiasm.

Listen twice as much as you talk. Praise twice as much as you critique. Exactly as you want to receive or feel love in your world – do the same for others. This is centuries old wisdom, but it really does make a lot of sense.

Try not to be the person who complains about everything their workmates or friends aren’t. What the family does or doesn’t do. Be the person who makes it easier, makes space for people and relationships instead of being frustrated at their absence. When your family isn’t working, start choosing and investing time in family of choice (friends).

There are two types of people without love in the world.

Those who feel acutely the absence of love. Whether through personality, habit, opportunity – there are the Waiting to Harvest folk. Waiting for something to come along the path. For something to grow. Sometimes they ache and feel the pinch when others find love and harvest it around them.

Those who plant love, who sow abundantly or cautiously, but they sow. They invest in the Waiting to Harvest, they remain optimistic, they celebrate love when it grows or where it is found. They are Gardeners, and they are so very important.

People can make the mistake of thinking that Love, once found or grown is a self-sufficient eco-system. But the truth, as far as I’ve seen it – is that you need more Gardeners than anything else. From Gardening comes growth, plenty, seed for coming years, harvests for the winter.

A Gardener knows that good soil should never be left untended and sees the opportunity in everything. Soil too rich for potatoes? Plant tomatoes. Too lime-y for herbs? Plant flowers.

Let me make the metaphor explicit. There is something to be Loved in everyone and every situation. If you cannot train your eyes to see it, take a chance to tend the soil and plant it. There is something magic in everyone.

So living deeply then….

I’m choosing a few patches of soil to tend. To do a little more gardening this year. To tend the rose bushes and the thorns in my life. To see what can grow if I plant optimism and kindness in my workplace, if I plant hope and compassion with my friends and if I sow patience in my family.