In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the concept of “active love.” The author relates an anecdote in which a married man tells Covey that he and his wife no longer love each other and that he needs Covey’s advice for how to proceed. Covey asks him if he’s tried loving her. The man reiterates that the love is gone and that they’ve given up. Covey says that love isn’t an object you find or lose but that it is a verb, an action. He asks if the man has tried to be loving to his wife by cherishing her, listening to her, and being there for her without expecting anything in return.
After reading this I was blown away. I’d always looked at love like a transaction: I give you this and you give me that. In fact, one of the major reasons my girlfriend and I got into fights was because of my expectations. I wanted to be a loving guy, but only if I knew I was going to get equal loving in return. I employed Covey’s philosophy right away. Whenever a situation that would normally rile us up arose, before we could get back into the same pattern, I made the effort instead to actively lover her by listening and cherishing her.
This was extremely difficult at first because I was so used to getting angry. I combined this method of active love with some additional techniques like sending thoughts of love her way. While there is no way of knowing if that had any effect on her, it certainly tended to curb my own anger.
Over time our relationship began to improve in every possible facet. The fights practically topped for good and I had one fewer excuse for my “writer’s block.” I am not surprised in the slightest that I became much more successful as a writer as our relationship mended. In fact, my girlfriend is one of my biggest supporters, helping me to design my book covers and offering me indispensable guidance.
If you feel that your emotions tied to your spouse or loved ones tend to get in the way of your writing or living, I fully recommend the process of active love. It is always difficult to break the negative patterns you have with a loved one, but once you do you may find a drastic improvement in your life and your creativity. It is true that “all you need is love,” just make sure it’s the right kind.
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Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.